Minor League Notebook: Mitch Keller zooming in prospect rankings

Baseball America high on former Cedar Rapids Xavier pitcher

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Baseball America certainly believes in Mitch Keller.

The publication listed its top 100 midseason minor-league prospects this week, and the Cedar Rapids Xavier graduate is smack dab in the middle of them. The 20-year-old pitcher checked in at No. 52 on the list, which also included former Cedar Rapids Kernels Jose Berrios (20), Nick Gordon (34), Mike Clevinger (71st) and second baseman Jorge Polanco (97th).

Keller is with the West Virginia Power, low-Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was Pittsburgh’s second-round draft pick in 2014.

“One of the stories of the first half,” Baseball America wrote. “Keller went from pitching little in 2015 to starring in the Sally League in 2016.”

Keller, a right-hander, is 5-5 with a 2.87 earned run average in 15 starts this season. His peripheral numbers are outstanding: 61 hits and 11 walks allowed in 81 2/3 innings.

He has struck out 91.

A forearm issue kept him off the mound much of last season, as he started just six games for Rookie-level Bristol. But he proved completely healthy in spring training and was aggressively assigned to low-A.

He has met that challenge and more. Keller was shutdown for two weeks in mid-June, as Pittsburgh watches his work load carefully.

It’ll be interesting to see how many more innings the Pirates will allow him to throw before shutting him down for the season. A very good season.

Second baseman Yoan Moncada is BA’s top-ranked midseason prospects. He is in the Boston Red Sox organization.

Midwest Leaguers on the list are Quad Cities outfielder Kyle Tucker (35th), Wisconsin outfielder Trent Clark (57th), Lake County catcher Francisco Mejia (70th) and Lansing pitcher Sean Reid-Foley (84th).

Mejia and Reid-Foley actually have been promoted to high-A.

BRAVES HOLDING TRYOUT CAMP

The Atlanta Braves are conducting an open tryout camp Tuesday, August 9, at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City. Area scout Kevin Barry will hold the camp, which begins at 9 a.m., and is for players ages 16 to 23.

Players should bring their own cleats and gloves. The Braves will provide bats and baseballs.

How They're Doing

Colin Rea (Cascade): Is 5-3 with a 4.95 ERA in 17 games, 16 starts for San Diego Padres. Allowed eight hits and four earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last start against Arizona.
Scott Schebler (Cedar Rapids Prairie): Outfielder is hitting .295 with 10 home runs in 56 games for Triple-A Indianapolis (Reds). Also has 11 doubles, three triples and 29 RBIs.
Matt Dermody (University of Iowa): Relief pitcher is 2-0 with a 0.92 earned run average in 16 games for Double-A New Hampshire (Blue Jays). Has allowed just 12 hits and two walks, with 21 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings.
Jon Keller (Cedar Rapids Xavier): Reliever is 0-2 with a save and 6.61 earned run average in 21 appearances for Double-A Bowie (Orioles).
Derrick Loveless (Solon): Outfielder has been promoted to Double-A New Hampshire (Blue Jays), where he has played 19 games and is hitting .245 with four home runs and eight RBIs.
Jake Yacinich (University of Iowa): Shortstop is hitting .209 in 39 games for low-A Burlington (Angels), with four homers and 20 RBIs.
Joel Booker (University of Iowa): Outfielder is hitting .368 in 14 games for Arizona Rookie League White Sox. Has a home run and nine RBIs in 57 at-bats.
Kris Goodman (University of Iowa): Outfielder is hitting .275 in 15 games for Rookie-level Batavia (Marlins).
Nick Roscetti (University of Iowa): Shortstop is on the disabled list for high-A Brevard County (Brewers). Hit .277 in 13 games for Arizona Rookie League Brewers.
Eric Toole (University of Iowa): Outfielder has played in nine games for Shortseason-A Boise (Rockies), with .270 batting average and a pair of RBIs.

NOTE: Former Iowa Hawkeye pitcher Tyler Peyton has signed with the Chicago Cubs but has not been assigned to a team as yet. Former Cedar Rapids Washington prep A.J. Puk has signed with the Oakland Athletics, but the first-round pitcher has not been assigned to a minor-league club, either.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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