Prospect Watch: Back-to-Back Strong Starts for Mitch Keller; Oneil Cruz Homers Twice

P2 Top 30

A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. If a player is in the majors for an extended time or loses his prospect eligibility (Colin Moran, Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick, Max Moroff and Dovydas Neverauskas), he will be removed from this list. Everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season, he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get more active prospects on the list. Rankings are from our 2018 Prospect Guide, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Mitch Keller, RHP, Altoona – 6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO

2. Austin Meadows, CF, Pirates – In Majors

3. Cole Tucker, SS, Altoona – 3-for-4, RBI, BB, 2 SB

4. Shane Baz, RHP, Extended Spring Training – DNP

5. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Altoona – 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI

6. Kevin Newman, SS, Indianapolis – 2-for-5, 2 RBI, SB

7. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Altoona –  DNP

8. Lolo Sanchez, CF, West Virginia – 3-for-5, RBI, 2 BB, 2 SB

9. Bryan Reynolds, OF, Altoona – Disabled list

10. Jordan Luplow, LF, Indianapolis – 2-for-5, 2B

11. Luis Escobar, RHP, Bradenton – DNP

12. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – DNP

13. Braeden Ogle, LHP, West Virginia – DNP

14. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – DNP

15. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Indianapolis – 2-for-5, 2B, HR, RBI

16. Adrian Valerio, SS, Bradenton – DNP

17. Calvin Mitchell, OF, West Virginia – 1-for-9

18. Oneil Cruz, SS, West Virginia – 3-for-7, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB

19. Nick Burdi, RHP, Pirates (disabled list) – DNP

20. Dario Agrazal, RHP, Altoona – DNP

21. JT Brubaker, RHP, Indianapolis – DNP

22. Will Craig, 1B, Altoona – 3-for-4, HR, 4 RBI

23. Stephen Alemais, 2B/SS, Altoona – 1-for-4, SB

24. Jason Martin, OF, Altoona – 1-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI

25. Brandon Waddell, LHP, Altoona – DNP

26. Eduardo Vera, RHP, Bradenton – DNP

27. Mason Martin, 1B, West Virginia – 0-for-3, BB, HBP

28. Conner Uselton, OF, Extended Spring Training – DNP

29. Cody Bolton, RHP, Extended Spring Training – DNP

30. Steven Jennings, RHP, Extended Spring Training – DNP


Indianapolis defeated Durham by a 9-2 score.

Starter Alex McRae hasn’t pitched well on the road and was knocked out early in his last start, but he turned things around in this game. He scattered eight base runners over seven innings, allowing just one run. McRae struck out eight and posted a 6:1 GO/AO ratio, while throwing 58 of his 91 pitches for strikes. The eight strikeouts are a season high and one behind his career best.

The offense saw six players collect at least two hits. Christopher Bostick and Ryan Lavarnway each had three hits. Kevin Newman, Kevin Kramer, Jordan Luplow and Eric Wood each had two hits. Wood connected on his fifth homer. Kramer picked up his fourth homer and eighth double. Bostick hit his 13th double. He’s hitting .333 with 21 RBIs. Newman, Bostick and Wood each drove in two runs. Luplow and Jerrick Suiter each collected their seventh double.

Here is the boxscore from the MiLB site.

You can view the season preview here.


Altoona won 12-3 over Portland on Sunday.

Mitch Keller allowed one run over seven innings in his last start. Sunday’s game wasn’t as solid as that, but it was close. He gave up two runs on five hits and two walks in 6.2 innings, while striking out seven batters and posting a 7:1 GO/AO ratio. Keller threw 101 pitches, with 67 going for strikes. He now has a 3.02 ERA through 47.2 innings, with 44 strikeouts. This is the fifth time in eight starts that he has gone at least six innings.

Will Craig followed up his three RBI game yesterday by driving in four runs today. He hit his sixth home run, tying his total from all of last year with Bradenton. Cole Tucker had a game he desperately needed, going 3-for-4 with a walk, three runs scored and his first two steals of the season. That helped raise his average to .212 on the season. Jason Martin extended his hit streak to 11 games with his ninth double of the season. Ke’Bryan Hayes hit his eighth double and also added a single and a walk. Christian Kelley (4th) and Logan Hill (6th) each hit homers. Bralin Jackson and Jordan George each had two hits.

Here is the boxscore from the MiLB site.

You can view the season preview here.


Bradenton was rained out on Saturday so they attempted to play a doubleheader on Sunday and got rained out again. The two teams don’t meet again during the first half, so these games will be canceled from the schedule. Eduardo Vera warmed up for the game before it was called, so his original Saturday start has now been pushed all the way back until Wednesday.

Here is the boxscore from the MiLB site.

You can view the season preview here.


West Virginia had their game suspended due to rain after one inning on Saturday. It was resumed on Sunday with Evan Piechota on the mound. Starter Gavin Wallace ended up with one run over one inning, with that run coming on Sunday after a batter he walked in the second scored on a home run. It was the only batter he faced in the second before the game was suspended. Deon Stafford hit his fourth homer of the season to make it a 2-0 game before the rains.

After play resumed, Piechota saved the day (sort of) by going 6.2 innings. The Power knew they had at least 16 innings to play going into the day and they were already one arm short in the bullpen. Piechota allowed four runs of his own, plus the inherited run scored, so while he saved the team some bullpen use by throwing 96 pitches, he also took the loss. Blake Cederlind recorded the final four outs in the 6-4 loss.

Besides the Stafford homer, the Power also got home runs from Oneil Cruz (his sixth) and Rodolfo Castro (his fifth). Cruz had two hits and two walks. Lolo Sanchez had a single, double and a walk.

Stafford let the game early after an injury running the bases. He was 2-for-2 at the time. Dylan Busby also left after being plunked in the head. He was taken to the hospital.

Here is the boxscore from the MiLB site.

In game two, Hunter Stratton got the start and couldn’t match his strong outing from earlier in the week when he surrendered one run over five innings. He didn’t have it in this game, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks in four innings. Despite a 6.23 ERA, Stratton has 26 strikeouts in 21.2 innings. Beau Sulser was out next and he put together two scoreless innings, with three strikeouts. Matt Seeling came in with a tie score, then allowed the go ahead run in a 7-6 loss.

Oneil Cruz homered for the second time on the day, his seventh of the season. Lolo Sanchez could be breaking his season-long slump. After reaching base three times in the opener, he had a single, walk, sacrifice fly and two stolen bases. Mason Martin scored two runs, reaching on a walk and hit-by-pitch. Ben Bengtson had two hits in his first game since Monday. Brett Pope went 0-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt and an error in his season debut.

Here’s the boxscore.

You can view the season preview here.