Mitch Keller Is Putting 2019 Behind Him, Ready For 2020

Keller Expects To Be More Comfortable In The Majors This Time Around

Kraig Riley
February 17, 2020 - 8:00 am
Pirates Pitcher Mitch Keller

Credit Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports.jpg

BRADENTON (93.7 The FAN) - It was a season of ups and downs for Pirates top prospect Mitch Keller in 2019, both literally and figuratively.

Keller dominated the AAA level to start the year, but when he finally got his first major league call-up on May 27th, things didn't go quite as smoothly.

Keller finished the 2019 season with a 1-5 record and 7.13 ERA for the Pirates, but he's thinking that being more comfortable now with that year under his belt is going to help.

""I don't know how the future is gonna be, but definitely if I get that first start in the big leagues this year, then I'm sure my nerves will be up there," Keller told me.  "I'll be a little anxious just like anybody is for their first start of the season, but I'm assuming I'll be a little bit more comfortable than I was last year."

You can hear Keller talk in the audio below, and it's not hard to tell that he's a pretty mild mannered guy that tries not to let anything get to him.  An approach that should help him as he deals with the rigors of a Major League Baseball season.

"Some stuff definitely frustrates you, but I try and keep my emotions in check a little bit, just being even-keeled and level-headed out there.​"

As for making sure that he doesn't have a repeat of the 2019 season for the big league club, new Pirates pitching coach Oscar Marin already some ideas of how to fully release the potential Keller flashed all throughout the minors of a dominant pitcher.

Related: Oscar Marin Shares What He Likes About His Pitching Staff

"Just getting him to engage his lower half and becoming the power pitcher...I'm seeing that power pitcher effect and just refining a couple of things and I think we can get him to where we want him to get."

So I asked Keller about the idea of unleashing that "power pitcher" that Marin referred to and he said he has always seen himself that way.

"I've always thought of myself as like a power pitcher, so that's not surprising to me that they thought about that."

One way the Pirates will go about fixing the mistakes of the last regime and their inability to develop players with ace-type stuff is the use of new technology they're introducing to the players.  Keller shared some insight on what he has seen already just a week into spring training. 

"The only difference is just really using the data that we have on me and trying to make it better.  Trying to get some better spin rate on fastballs, try to make just all my pitches a little bit better.  We haven't really gotten into pitch selection yet or pitch usage, but I'm sure we'll get into that more here."

So, putting all that together, the Pirates are hoping to unleash the pitcher in Mitch Keller that posted a 3.82 ERA at AAA Indianapolis and struck out 123 batters over just 103.2 innings pitched.  Keller too is hoping that is the case to start the year.

"I don't want anything else," Keller said about starting the year in the Major League rotation.  "If I don't, then I'll be pretty disappointed in myself and just work even harder to make it back."

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