Minor League Sports

Cedar Rapids native Mitch Keller to make major league debut Monday night

Indianapolis Indians pitcher Mitch Keller, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates after his high school career at Cedar Rapids Xavier, delivers to the plate against the Louisville Bats in International League (AAA) play. (Austin Friedline)
Indianapolis Indians pitcher Mitch Keller, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates after his high school career at Cedar Rapids Xavier, delivers to the plate against the Louisville Bats in International League (AAA) play. (Austin Friedline)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Pittsburgh Pirates have called up top pitching prospect Mitch Keller, and the former Cedar Rapids Xavier prep will make his major league debut Monday night as the starter in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark.

Keller, 23, was Pittsburgh’s second-round draft pick in 2014 and has made a steady rise through the minor leagues. Considered one of the top 25 prospects in the game, the right-hander was 5-0 with a 3.49 earned run average in nine starts for Triple-A Indianapolis this season, striking out 56 batters in 47 innings.

Keller has a mid to sometimes upper-90s fastball, a plus curveball and changeup. He also started to throw a cutter-slider this season.

“We wanted to give him a handful of outings to establish this pitch, not only as a weapon, but we wanted him to have confidence in it,” Pirates General Manager Neil Huntington said Sunday on Pittsburgh radio station 93.7 The Fan. “If we don’t have a doubleheader tomorrow, we’re probably not there. Not in a perfect world. But we’re far from a perfect world. We needed a starting pitcher.”

Game time for Keller’s debut is 6:05 p.m. CT.

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

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