Right-handed pitching prospect Mitch Keller reached Double-A Altoona with the Pittsburgh Pirates this summer, despite being just 21 years old (DOB: April 4, 1996) and missing a large portion of the summer season with a back strain that cut into his innings and necessitated a trip to the Arizona Fall League over the last six weeks. When he was healthy this summer, Keller was on point every fifth day, finishing 8-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 23 starts split between Altoona and High-A Bradenton, tossing 116.0 innings and allowing just 84 hits (.202 opponents’ average) and 32 walks (1.00 WHIP) against 116 strikeouts in that span.
In six starts for the Glendale Desert Dogs at the Arizona Fall League after the season, Mitch Keller was even better, finishing 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA over 23.2 innings pitched. In that span, he allowed 19 hits and five walks against 13 strikeouts, representing the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Fall Stars Game along the way. Looking ahead, the righty’s reliable and lively stuff and advanced pitchability beyond his age combine to make him one of the very best young pitchers in the game, and Mitch Keller will have a shot to be a potential frontline big league starter in the coming years for the Bucs. Below, we’ll go a little deeper on his arsenal, share some game video, and discuss projections for the highly-regarded Pittsburgh Pirates prospect.
Mitch Keller Scouting Report, Pittsburgh Pirates — 2017
Dates observed in 2017: Arizona Fall League
Mitch Keller Scouting Report — Pittsburgh Pirates — 2017 Game Video
Mitch Keller Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis
Rated highly on many lists and organizational rankings for good reason, Mitch Keller was especially impressive in representing the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Arizona Fall League. Easy access to velocity and good feel for a sharp hook have the 21-year-old set as one of the more exciting young pitching prospects in professional baseball today, and considering he’s already found some early success in Double-A (albeit across just 34.2 innings over the summer), there’s a very good chance the Pirates will give him a look in the big leagues in 2018. There are some things here to work on, though — namely Keller’s offspeed pitches, both of which flash average or better at times but also struggle to show consistency in late movement and break. The righty on occasion has a tendency to get around his curve, in particular, and try to do too much with it; he’d be best served to throw it even harder and trust his grip, which will give him ample late downward break. It’s clearly been a strikeout pitch for him through the lower minors already, and more consistency and sharpness will continue that trend as he reaches Pittsburgh.
Mitch Keller Scouting Report — Future Projection
Ultimately, Mitch Keller has a shot at being a productive mid-rotation starter with a very good fastball and two serviceable (if not slightly better) off-speed pitches as he develops. He’ll need to find more consistency in both the curve and changeup, as mentioned above, but his command profile and feel for all three pitches immediately sets him apart at this point and bodes well for that development to come. Remarkably easy access to velocity will provide him some margin for error against big league hitters, too. A strong Arizona Fall League season has rightfully propelled Mitch Keller forward after missing time over the summer. Now, there’s no reason he shouldn’t have some impact at the big league level with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2018, and over the next few seasons after that he’ll get ample opportunities to earn a rotation job with development.
Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Rotation future; arsenal and command profile to fit mid-rotation starter (#3) role (55/60)
MLB ETA: 2018
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