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Bucs' Keller powers Pitchers of the Week

Pirates prospect has been South Atlantic League's top hurler early on
April 18, 2016

Plenty has been made in the early going about Triple-A Indianapolis' rotation and top Pirates prospects Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon. But three levels lower, another right-hander is showing he could be the next big arm in the system.

Pirates No. 14 prospect Mitch Keller has been named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week after tossing a pair of scoreless outings to open the season with the West Virginia Power.

The 20-year-old right-hander thrived in his Class A debut on April 11 at Greenville, fanning 10 while allowing only one hit in five scoreless frames. He followed that with five shutout innings April 16 at home against Lexington, during which he allowed four hits and struck out three. As of Monday, Keller is tied atop the Sally League leaderboard with a 0.50 WHIP. 

The most impressive stat through his first two outings, however, is in the walks column, where there's still a zero. That'd be great for any prospect, but it's especially noteworthy for Keller, who averaged 5.6 walks per nine innings during his first two seasons in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues. With an above-average fastball and curve, the 2014 second-rounder has the starter kit to someday move into a Major League rotation. But after a right forearm strain limited him to six starts in 2016, he needs to show health and control if he's going to climb the prospect rankings and the Pirates system.

So far in 2016, he's shown both.

"Last year was kind of disappointing that I got an injury and got shut down and wasn't really able to get in a good rhythm and show what I had," Keller told's Alex Kraft after his first outing. "I'm really excited for this year, just to be able to go out and be able to play a full season."

Here are the rest of the Pitchers of the Week award winners for games played from April 7-17, except in the International League which is from April 11-17:

PiTCHERS of the week
League Player Team MLB org. Notable stats
International Zach Eflin Lehigh Valley PHI 2-0, 0.64 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 14 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 2 BB, 8 K
Pacific Coast Jonathan Dziedzic Omaha KC 1-1, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 K
Eastern Aaron Wilkerson Portland BOS 1-0, 0.54 ERA, 3 G, 3 GS, 16 2/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 3 BB, 22 K
Southern Austin Brice Jacksonville MIA 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 11 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 2 HBP, 4 BB, 8 K
Texas Daniel Mengden Midland OAK 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 6 BB, 16 K
California Brock Stewart Rancho Cucamonga LAD 2-0, 0.82 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 11 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 2 BB, 10 K
Carolina Max Povse Carolina ATL 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 13 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 2 BB, 14 K
Florida State A.J. Ladwig Lakeland DET 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 10 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 8 K
Midwest Justin Donatella Kane County ARI 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 12 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 10 K
South Atlantic Mitch Keller West Virginia PIT 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 2 G, 2 GS, 10 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 HBP, 0 BB, 13 K

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.