Mitch Keller 2018 Update

S. Samek

One of the most prominent prospects we cover at Hammer Down as been Mitch Keller of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. With the minor league season well over let’s take a look at Keller’s progress during the 2018 season.

Keller sits atop the Pirates top 30 prospects list. He has been their sense last season, with Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow being the closest competition for the spot. Both have sense been promoted to the majors, as well as, traded to Tampa Bay in the Chris Archer deal. Though the spot could be vacated to Ke’Byran Hayes, who had a strong year at double a in 2018.
Keller started the year returning to double-a. This is a level he had success at during the 2017 season especially during the playoff run for Altoona that resulted in a championship.

The return trip was just as good. In 14 starts Keller went 9-2 with a 2.72 era. He itched 86 innings and had 76 strikeouts to 32 walks with hitters hitting .208 against him.
This earned him a promotion to triple -a in July. Here the numbers take a bit of a hit. In 10 starts Keller had a 4.82 era with a 3-2 record. He pitched 52 innings while striking out 57 and walking 22. Hitters hit .280 against him. While the numbers were a bit low they are still pretty good.

Keller is still striking out a lot of hitters and pitched a higher amount of innings than before. Both are encouraging signs going forward. Yes, the era didn’t show a dominance, but it was just a short sample size at triple -a.
I won’t say it’s a lost year of development, or that Keller’s a bust. I do just think that maybe he isn’t as close to the majors as was thought. He should be sent back to triple -a and if all goes well look to be up next September. If not look for him in 2020.


Pittsburgh Pirates Organization All-Stars 2017.


The best minor league players in the Pittsburg Pirates system were honored with organization all-star status.



Today I take a look at the selection to see what’s good and who deserves their status.
At the Catcher Position you have Jacob Stallings. Stallings saw time at triple a and a very short stint in the majors. He hit .301 with 16 doubles, four home runs and 38 rbi.

Being as catcher is one of the weaker positions in the Pirates system and that Elias Diaz has graduated from being a prospect make this an easy choice.

At first base Edwin Espinal was honored. Espinal hit .294 with 15 home runs and 86 rbi. Both of these totals ranked near the top of the organization leaderboard. Sadly, they let him walk in free agency. Well-deserved all-star spot.

At second base it was Pablo Reyes. Reyes was an on base machine for the Altoona Curve with 115 hits and 51 walks during the season. Reyes may not be well known and plays at a position with more depth, but isn’t entirely out of the mix after a season like that.

At shortstop it’s Cole Tucker. Tucker saw time at high a and double a in 2017. Tucker hit .275 with six home runs and 50 rbi. Tucker also swiped 47 bases this season, up from just six last year.

Shortstop is a position of depth for the Pirates, but Tucker could still be that future shortstop for the big-league Pirates.


At Third base the all-star is Ke’Byran Hayes. Hayes is the fourth ranked Pirates prospect. While Hayes has been injury prone in the past this year was better. He played in 108 and hi .278 with two homers and 43 rbi. Good to see him get on the field healthy and showing his stuff.




In the Outfield its Jordan Luplow, Chris Bostick and Edison Lantiqua.

Luplow was the Pirates minor league player of the year and saw time in the majors this year. He hit .302 with 23 homers, best in the system. Luplow could be in Pittsburgh to start next year and absolutely earned every accolade he gets.

Bostick had a good season despite no real expectations. He hit .294 with seven homers and 57 rbi with 33 doubles at Triple A Indianapolis.

Lantiqua played for Bristol this season, so he is unknown to most Pirate fans. Though he showed he maybe a future top 30 prospect by hitting .307 with four homers and eight steals during 48 games this season. He routinely topped offensive categories for Bristol this year and could be a breakout candidate in 2018.

At the utility position Albert Baur was selected. Baur played at West Virginia in the South Atlantic League and hit .298 during the season after spending two seasons in short season a ball. His campaign included 117 hits, 31 doubles and 65 rbi, all near the top of the Pirate system leader boards. Baur could be another unranked, yet sleeper player to watch.




The right-handed pitcher for the Pirates comes as no surprise, despite a talented system with plenty of depth at the position. Hammer Down favorite and number two Pirates prospect Mitch Keller earned the spot.
Keller made 23 starts, including six at double a. This included clutch starts in the double a playoff, where he went 2-0 with a 1.10 era. Keller is most likely going back to Altoona to start 2018, but after a stint in the AFL is primed to make a run toward starting in Pittsburgh real soon.

The best left hander in the system is Steven Brault. Brault is often time thrown in the mix as a fifth starter in Pittsburgh after making four starts and pitching in 11 games for the big club. He went 10-5 with a 1.94 era at triple this season. This earned him the Pirates minor league pitcher of the year award. Great pick for an all -star honor.

Tate Scioneaux was the all-star reliever for this team. He was Altoona’s closer after the promotion of Montana Durapau. He went 14 of 17 in save opportunities while pitching 83 innings with a 2.44 era. Scioneaux is another unranked prospect, but could surprise a lot of people if he keeps putting up good numbers.

Overall the list is pretty good. It’s just a little alarming that more ranked prospect don’t appear on this list. Though it adds some variety to the players to watch list.

To compare with the 2016 list check here.

Bradenton Marauders 2017

By S. Samek

Today the 2016 Florida State League champions the Bradenton Marauders begin their title defense. They do so with a loaded roster of prospects.

Starting with third ranked prospect and breakout hit of 2016 Mitch Keller. Keller started last year with West Virginia before a promotion. Keller then went on to pitch in three late season contests for the Marauders, including two in the playoffs. The most memorable of those games being an eight-shutout inning performance in game two of the finals series. Keller was then sent to the AFL to continue his development. I don’t think Keller will be here very long, especially if he dominates. Keller can be read about further in this post.


Gage Hinsz and Taylor Hern are the other big name arms to watch. Hinsz is the 11th ranked prospect in the system, while Hern is the 12th. Hern looks to show why he was traded for in the Mark Melancon deal.

The infield also carries some solid prospects. Ke’Bryan Hayes plays at third and is the fifth best in the Pirates top 30. Hayes was playing well at West Virginia before an injury last year.

Number six prospect Cole Tucker comes back to Bradenton after playing in 65 games there last year.

Will Craig last year’s first round draft pick also gets a look at high A. Craig is skipping over low a West Virginia Power after a season with the short-season West Virginia Black Bears. This to be a bit of an aggressive call up to me.

The catching position doesn’t feature much to watch, not does the outfield. Though it may be worth noting Kevin Krause behind the dish and Casey Hughston in the outfield. Hughston struggled last season with both West Virginia clubs after being a third-round pick in 2015. I didn’t like this pick when it happened and in less he breaks out this season it may be shipping out time for him. 

The Marauders have a full lot of players ready to defend the title. Though a lot of it will depend on the pitching. Having a strong defense in the infield will help this staff out a lot. This is the team to watch if you want to get a glimpse of the future Pittsburgh infield. Mitch Keller should also jet up prospect boards and into double a if he looks sharp during the first half of play. Making this squad one to watch for sure.

Pirates 2016 Minor League All-Stars

Best of each position in the Pirates system

By S. Samek

Every year, honors the top players in each major league teams’ minor league system. This process takes place over the span of a couple months, and the Pittsburgh Pirates will have theirs announced in December.

Let’s expedite the process and announce my Pirates organization all-star list.

Note: The players will come from the top four levels of the system, and prospects that have contributed in Pittsburgh significantly will be left out.

656605SP – Mitch Keller – RHP – West Virginia (A) and Bradenton (A+)

9-5 – 2.35 ERA – 24 GS – 130.1 IP – 138 SO – .212 BAA – 0.92 WHIP

Keller is the No. 5 prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system – one that ranks 11th overall.

In a previous post, I made the case as to why Keller will rise to the top prospect position in the Pirates’ system. Keller was named both Pitcher of the Year and Breakout Prospect of the Year by Tim Williams of

Keller has great upside as a pitcher after a breakout 2016 season. Keller will have a lot to prove, though, as all of his innings came at the A-ball level. Expect to see him in Double-A to start next year, which would be a similar progression path as current No. 1 prospect – Tyler Glasnow.

Keller is the highest-ranking pitcher in the Pirates prospect rankings other than Glasnow. Glasnow has seen time in the majors, and I expect him there to start the year with the Pirates, making Keller my pick at starting pitcher. Continue reading “Pirates 2016 Minor League All-Stars”

After Strong Season, Mitch Keller Is a Top Three Pirates Prospect

By S. Samek

Photo credit: Tim Williams, piratesprospects

The Pirates’ minor league system, ranked 11th by Baseball America, is headlined by top pitching prospects Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon. Supplement the pitching talent with center fielder Austin Meadows and first baseman Josh Bell and you have a system that gives fans hope for a many years to come.

Underneath all the elite talent at the top lays the next No. 1 prospect in the system. Though, for now he sits at No. 5 on the Pirates’ Top 30 prospect list by This prospect is Mitch Keller.

Keller is a 20-year-old right-handed pitcher. He was drafted in the second round with the 64th-overall pick. Continue reading “After Strong Season, Mitch Keller Is a Top Three Pirates Prospect”