Keller allowed two runs in 7.1 innings Thursday, leading the Altoona Curve to a three-game sweep in the Eastern League championship round.
He gave up only four hits, walking one while striking out eight batters. The 21-year-old also recorded a swinging strikeout with a 96-mph fastball on his 90th pitch, stranding two runners to end the seventh inning. Keller made just six regular-season starts at Double-A in 2017. As a result, it wouldn't be surprising to see begin next year with Altoona. Unless a slew of injuries strike the major-league club, it's unlikely Keller debuts before September 2018. He remains Pittsburgh's brightest pitching prospect.
Keller pitched nine shutout innings against Bowie in the first round of the Eastern League playoffs Thursday. He gave up just one hit and two walks, striking out four.
The 21-year-old compiled a 3.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 116:32 K:BB in 116 regular-season innings split between three levels in 2017. With a fastball that sits in the mid 90s and a 3.85 K/BB rate for his career, Keller continues to exhibit promise. He figures to start the 2018 campaign in Double-A with a chance to advance mid-season.
Keller was recently promoted to Double-A Altoona and will debut with his new team Sunday, Mike Rosenbaum of MLB.com reports.
Keller earned the move up the organizational ladder by delivering a 2.99 ERA and 0.98 WHIP on the season for High-A Bradenton, and really turned it on in his last three starts, going 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA and 14:2 K:BB. As the top pitching prospect in the Pirates organization, he'll be a name worth keeping an eye on for a potential move to the big club at some point in 2018.
Keller (lower leg) tossed seven innings with High-A Bradenton on Tuesday, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out six en route to the win.
Keller left his previous start on July 20 after getting hit in the shin by a comebacker, but the issue doesn't appear to posing any hinderance to his abilities. The 21-year-old should continue to develop with the Marauders, looking to build on the 3.28 ERA and 1.00 WHIP he holds through 14 starts.
Keller exited Thursday's outing after being struck on the shin by a comebacker.
There's still no word on the severity of Keller's injury, but this is certainly a concerning development for one of the Pirates' top prospects. More updates on Keller's status will be provided as more details become available in the coming days.
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