Pirates to call up Keller for debut

Top Bucs prospect expected to face Reds on Monday

Mitch Keller ranks third in the International League with 56 strikeouts and sixth with a 3.45 ERA. (Indianapolis Indians)

By Chris Bumbaca / MiLB.com | May 25, 2019 10:08 PM

In a month that has seen top prospects across baseball move to the Majors, Mitch Keller is next in line. 

The Pirates' top prospect is expected to be called up and make his Major League debut in one of the two games in Monday's doubleheader against the Reds, according to MLB Pipeline's Jonathan Mayo

The team has not confirmed the report.

MLB.com's No. 21 overall prospect was selected in the second round (64th overall) in the 2014 Draft and rose steadily through the Pirates system. Keller spent most of last season with Double-A Altoona, where he posted a 2.72 ERA in 14 starts and got the start for Team USA in the All-Star Futures Game.

Video: Indians' Keller records eighth strikeout

"You definitely try harder because you want to be [in the Majors] so badly," Keller told Mayo at the Rookie Career Development Program in January. "You just try not to do that, but it definitely creeps into everyone's mind that you are one phone call away. If you make things happen, then you can force their hand. You've just got to try not to do that and just worry about yourself."

Keller is off to a solid start with Triple-A Indianapolis this year. The right-hander is 5-0 with a 3.45 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in nine starts, striking out 56 over 47 innings. His longest outing of the season came on Tuesday, when the No. 4 right-handed pitching prospect struck out six and yielded one earned run on six hits and a walk over seven innings.

"I'm definitely getting comfortable," he told MiLB.com on April 21 after throwing six scoreless innings. "I'm working day in and day out, in between starts, to get ready for the next one. It's coming together pretty nicely.

"I take everything the same, whether we are up eight runs, down eight or it's a tie game. I attack and go after hitters the same exact way."

2019 MiLB include

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native will be tasked with providing some stability to a depeted Pirates rotation that has seen its top two starters -- Trevor Williams and Jameson Taillon -- go down with injuries. 

Reds outfielder Nick Senzel, Braves third baseman Austin Riley, Astros right-hander Corbin Martin, Rockies infielder Brendan Rodgers and Brewers infielder Keston Hiura are other Top 100 prospects who have made their Major League debuts this month. 

Last month, in need of lineup depth, the Pirates were quick to promote fifth-ranked Cole Tucker and No. 8 prospect Bryan Reynolds, both of whom have have been with the big league team since. 

Chris Bumbaca is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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