BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Mitch Keller Hype Machine just cranked up another notch.

Keller will start the season with Double-A Altoona, but his first brush with the big time arrived Sunday afternoon at LECOM Park, when he plowed through the seventh and eighth innings of the Pirates' 2-1 loss to the Red Sox.

The Pirates' top prospect -- and one of the most promising pitchers in all of minor-league baseball -- struck out three Sox and allowed just one hit. Just as importantly, he hummed his fastball in the mid-to-high 90s and flashed a cutting curveball.

To hear Keller tell it, he was happy to simply stay upright on the mound, surrounded by 9,000 of his closest friends.

“I was really nervous," he said. "Very anxious. Just, it was a big moment for me, getting out there and showing peo...

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