MLB Pipeline began their position-by-position rankings of the top prospects in baseball, starting with right-handed pitchers on Tuesday morning. As you can imagine, this is the deepest position in the game and it is top-heavy with elite prospects. Mitch Keller is one of the top 20 prospects in the game right now, but on the list of right-handed pitchers, he’s ranked sixth overall.

Jonathan Mayo has a breakdown of the best tools at the spot and he ranks Keller as having the best control (60 on the 20-80 scouting scale) and he also has Keller as the highest floor. That last one is impressive considering that four of the five players ahead of him on the list have at least Triple-A experience. That’s including Shohei Ohtani, who has pitched five years at Japan’s highest level, but has yet to debut in the States. Mayo notes that Keller’s combo of stuff, plus size and command, makes him the most likely to reach his ceiling of the group. I’d also throw in that Keller has a very low effort delivery, which should help keep him healthy, but also makes it easier to repeat his delivery.

Depending on how deep upcoming positions are, we might not see another Pittsburgh Pirate prospect make the top ten until next Tuesday when Pipeline has third base, shortstop and outfield over the course of three days. They plan to unveil their top 100 prospects list next Saturday on MLB Network.

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  1. With Taillon and Keller leading the way, and Williams, Kuhl, Kingham, Holmes, etc. the Pirates need to find a Manager and coaching staff that might be able to generate some runs. Bell is a good place to start, and Marte, Cervelli, and Polanco need to wake up and play up to their skill levels.

    The Pirates quit too soon – Harrison still has value and teams who are interested – his 2017 was strong and we need to make a trade soon. I do not get frustrated with all of this because we all knew it was coming. What will be frustrating will be if we still have Josh Rodriguez on the roster taking PT from the kids who need to be playing not sitting. Get rid of him and give Freese the decision to help develop Moran or move on if he wants to remain a starter at 3B with another team.

    • emjayin, a “…manager and coaching staff…” will never be able to generate some runs….you need talent pure and simple…talent which the bucs roster now woefully lacks….my guess is another 3-4 game backslide to 71-91; will be worse if injuries play a role….

      • In 2016 the Pirates scored 2 or less runs in 47 games. In 2017 they scored 2 or less in 59 games (5-54 in those games). These are facts and no pitching staff can overcome that type of ineptitude.

        Was it the players or the hitting coaches and the Manager? I blame the coaches and the Manager. We need to recognize the issue and emphasize smart baseball – put the ball in play, advance the runners at every opportunity..

        • Hurdle will not be able to replace Cutch’s bat in the lineup—-he is gone and the trickle down effects on our lineup will be substantial

  2. A rotation fronted by Taillon and Keller and followed by a lot of potential #3’s (Glasnow, Kuhl, Williams, Musgrove, Kingham) is why I’m cautiously optimistic about the next 2-3 years. We need a couple from that latter group to take a step forward but I think that’s reasonably likely. And with the way the pen is shaping up, we shouldn’t waste many good outings by our starters.

  3. Just my opinion, there is no way I put Keller above Hunter Greene. As a matter of fact, there is no way I put any RHP in the minors above Hunter Greene.

    As a matter of fact, this entire list is a head scratcher for me. Ohtani at 1 is debatable, he should be able to transition, but I am not sure I would put him at #1 RHP. #1 overall due to his ability to hit and pitch, but not #1 based solely on his pitching.

    Kopech at 3, to me he is just another Glasnow, very high ceiling, but also a very low floor.

    • I’m the opposite–there’s no way I’d put a guy coming out of HS above a young player who has shown the ability to dominate at AA. Greene might have more upside but Keller has so much less risk that I’d rank him higher.

      That’s also why I understand the logic of trading for Reynolds instead of just keeping Cutch and getting a comp pick–even though both players would have been drafted in similar spots, Reynolds having had success at A+ (and that success being supported by scouting data) makes him the clearly better prospect. (Noting that I would have kept Cutch anyway.)

      • I would say that Greene has more upside than Keller, less to work on than what Keller had out of high school, and 3 pitches that are currently on par with Keller’s. I may be overly high on Greene, but barring injury, I feel like he could be a generational type pitcher. He could legitimately hit AA this year.

      • And, that was only if the pitcher got an adequate number of innings each year in the minors. Smoltz did not say, but I got the impression he felt Cole was rushed to the majors which, according to his HOF opinion, means just that much longer it will take to mature in MLB.

    • Pressure is off Glasnow now…He’s on a rebuilding club and an arm like that should be getting the ball every 5 days. Put Musgrove in the pen where he thrived. Musgrove-Feliz, Crick, Rivero. Then, in August/Sept you add Burdi to that group. Goodness, that pen has some major potential.

      • I’m hoping for a rotation of Taillon, Kuhl, Williams, Glasnow, and Musgrove to start the year (Nova having been dealt). If Brault beats out one of these five, that’s fine. But every game then will be worth tuning into just to watch the potential development. (And surely I’ll be tuning out by the 3rd or 4th in some games as a young pitcher struggles with his command.)

        • Who is going to want Nova? I keep reading this. But he signed for cheap with Pirates when everyone had a chance to sign him. He didn’t pitch well the second half of the season. Hopefully that was due to health issues.

      • I agree with the perspective on Glasnow…we shall see how he reacts.

        I don’t think he has much wriggle room between front of the rotation or back of the pen, though.

      • Catch, out of that grouping only Rivero is a known commodity…the rest of your mentions (no matter their stuff) are near 5 eras and pen isnt going to matter much for a team that wont be able to score runs

  4. I get confused with all these player rankings. I thought MLB ranked Keller as something like number 2 (or was that just a Pirate ranking?).

    • MLB is just starting their rankings today. Team rankings aren’t out yet, they still reflect the midseason placements, except when they add newly signed/acquired players

    • He’s worth more then a slightly above ave outfielder that’s been declining & only has 1 year left until someone over pays him, probably only slightly though. FA in their 30’s not getting what they used to.

  5. Off topic a bit, but it takes some finding for the 2018 payroll commitments. Can you update the link under the ‘more’ section to link tot he 2018 and not the 2017 now? I feel the payroll numbers are more important now than this time last week…

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