Keller puts six zeros on board for Indy

Pittsburgh's top prospect allows two hits while striking out eight

Mitch Keller has whiffed 18 batters over 20 innings in the International League this year. (Dave Wegiel/MiLB.com)

By Brian Stultz / MiLB.com | April 21, 2019 5:48 PM

The only eggs Mitch Keller gave out on Easter Sunday were on the scoreboard.

Top-ranked Pittsburgh prospect allowed two hits and three walks while striking out eight over six scoreless innings as Triple-A Indianapolis dropped Louisville, 2-1, in 11 innings at Victory Field.

Video: Indians' Keller record eighth strikeout

Five of Keller's first seven outs came via the strikeout, and only two Bats reached second base, both following walks: Blake Trahan on a sacrifice bunt in the third and Christian Colon with a stolen base in the fourth.

The 2014 second-round pick made his Triple-A debut late last season, going 3-2 with a 4.82 ERA and 57 strikeouts over 52 1/3 innings. In six-plus years in the Minor Leagues, Keller sports a 30-17 record and a 3.04 ERA, holding opponents to a .227 average while ringing up 457 batters in 449 2/3 innings.


Gameday box score


Throwing just 51 of 92 pitches for strikes, the 23-year-old depended on his off-speed pitch to pound the zone and polish off hitters.

"My curveball was really on," Keller said. "I was throwing it for strikes and a putaway (pitch)."

The Iowa native's performance was matched by Keury Mella. The Reds No. 17 prospect scattered four hits over seven scoreless innings, striking out seven without a walk.

Keller kept his strategy relaxed and enjoyed the competition.

"It's always fun going up against another quality pitcher with a quality performance in a duel like that ... knowing that every run is huge," the right-hander said. "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."

After a somewhat slow start to the season -- he allowed five earned runs in 8 2/3 innings in his first two starts --, Keller thinks his rhythm on the mound is starting to mesh with his talent.

2019 MiLB include

"I'm definitely getting comfortable," he said. "I'm working day in and day out in between starts to get ready for the next one. It's coming together pretty nicely."

Left-hander Brandon Waddell followed Keller with four strikeouts over 2 1/3 hitless innings. Pirates No. 23 prospect Clay Holmes escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth before allowing the go-ahead run in the 10th. Lefty Tyler Lyons (1-0) walked one and struck out one in a hitless frame for the win.

Trayvon Robinson had two hits, including an RBI triple, for the Indians. In the 11th, Eric Wood belted a walk-off single to right field on the first pitch from right-hander Jesus Reyes (0-1).

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

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