Keller posts zeros in Pirates camp debut

No. 15 overall prospect goes two frames; Acuna batting .432

Mitch Keller sports a 2.79 ERA over 293 1/3 career innings in the Pirates system. (Jennifer Stewart/MiLB.com)

By MiLB.com Staff | March 18, 2018 7:46 PM

Even in his first big league spring appearance, Mitch Keller didn't let the inexperience show.

The Pirates' top prospect worked around a hit and struck out three in two scoreless frames of a 2-1 split-squad loss to the Red Sox on Sunday in Bradenton, Florida in Grapefruit League action.

Coming up from the Minors for the game, Keller retired the first five batters he faced, including punchouts of Rusney Castillo and Ivan De Jesus Jr. In the eighth, MLB.com's No. 15 overall prospect worked around a two-out double off the bat of Cole Sturgeon by fanning Luke Tendler to complete his debut.

In his fourth pro season, Keller went 8-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 116 strikeouts and 32 walks in 116 innings over 23 starts, mostly with Class A Advanced Bradenton and Double-A Altoona. The 2014 second-round pick made a couple of rehab starts for Class A Short Season West Virginia after a back injury forced him to miss four weeks.

Before heading to the Arizona Fall League, Keller was stingy in the postseason for the Curve. The right-hander went 2-0 with a 1.10 ERA, 12 strikeouts and three walks in 16 1/3 innings over two starts -- including a complete-game shutout -- en route to the Eastern League title. Keller and his Curve teammates received their rings Saturday.

Pirates No. 8 prospect Colin Moran, No. 22 Jason Martin and No. 23 Jordan Luplow each added a single.

In other spring action:

Braves 6, Astros 3 (Box)

No. 2 overall prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. bumped his average to .432 after going 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored in the win. Braves No. 15 prospect A.J. Minter worked around a hit with three strikeouts in a scoreless fifth.

Yankees 8, Marlins 5 (Box)

No. 27 overall prospect Lewis Brinson collected a sacrifice fly and a single in the loss. Ninth-ranked Marlins prospect Brian Anderson went 2-for-3 with a homer, a double and two RBIs. In just his fourth big league at-bat, Joe Dunand (No. 19) slugged a solo shot in the eighth.

Mets 5, Orioles 4 (Box)

Top Orioles prospect Austin Hays ripped a double in his only at-bat while seventh-ranked Cedric Mullins went 2-for-3 with a run scored and two stolen bases. Southpaw Luis Gonzalez (No. 28) allowed two hits with one strikeout in a scoreless inning.

Twins 4, Phillies 3 (Box)

Philadelphia's No. 2 prospect, Scott Kingery, went 2-for-4 with a barehanded play at third base while seventh-ranked Jorge Alfaro walked and came around to score.

Cardinals 10, Nationals 0 (Box)

Harrison Bader -- the Cardinals' No. 10 prospect -- doubled and scored a run in his only at-bat while No. 11 Randy Arozarena tripled and No. 12 Yairo Munoz knocked an RBI single to cap the rout.

Blue Jays 5, Pirates (ss) 2 (Box)

Pirates No. 9 prospect Kevin Kramer tripled and scored in his only at-bat. Blue Jays No. 28 prospect Jonathan Davis doubled and came around to score in the decisive eighth.

Brewers 7, Dodgers (ss) 3 (Box)

Keston Hiura went 2-for-2 to raise his average to .433 in 30 Cactus League at-bats. The top Brewers prospect was reassigned to Minor League camp following the game. Dodgers No. 12 prospect Edwin Rios belted a solo homer, his third of the spring.

Reds 6, D-backs 3 (Box)

No. 19 Reds prospect Alex Blandino went 2-for-3 with a triple, an RBI and a run scored to raise his Spring Training average to .387. Cincinnati's top prospect and No. 7 overall, Nick Senzel, singled in his lone at-bat.

Offseason MiLB include

Indians (ss) 11, Cubs (ss) 4 (Box)

Eric Haase, Cleveland's 20th-ranked prospect, slugged a grand slam for his third home run of the spring. Ka'ai Tom (No. 23) had an RBI single. Cubs No. 8 prospect Victor Caratini singled and scored a run. No. 22 Alec Mills allowed one hit without a walk and fanned one in three scoreless innings.

Athletics 14, White Sox 0 (Box)

Oakland's No. 2 prospect Jesus Luzardo allowed two hits and struck out two in 2 2/3 scoreless innings in his first Cactus League start. No. 30 Nolan Blackwood surrendered a hit and fanned two in a scoreless frame. Sheldon Neuse (No. 11) reached safely three times, finishing 2-for-3 with a homer, five RBIs and two runs scored while Nick Allen (No. 14) had a single in two at-bats.

Royals 11, Cubs (ss) 9 (Box)

No. 18 Royals prospect Ryan O'Hearn raised his Cactus League average to .433 with a two-run single in his only at-bat on Sunday. 

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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