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Jerry Keller

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Charles Bricker Keller

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[edit] Biographical information

Jerry Keller was a minor league baseball catcher and first baseman who played in the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays farm systems from 1976 to 1985, spending eight years at AAA without playing in the majors. He twice led a AAA loop in a Triple Crown department as well.

He was originally drafted out of high school by the Montreal Expos in the 20th round of the 1973 amateur draft, however he did not sign. After being drafted by the Braves in the 10th round of the 1976 amateur draft after college, he did sign. He began his professional career in 1976, splitting the season between the Kingsport Braves (41 games, six home runs, .362/.459/.579) and Greenwood Braves (21 games, five home runs, .296/.366/.556), hitting a combined .339 with 11 home runs in 62 games. The following year, he played for the Savannah Braves, hitting .253/.357/.431 with 17 home runs, 73 walks and 86 RBI. He led the Southern League in RBI and tied Tom Chism and Al Javier for the home run lead; Chism beat him out for All-Star honors at first base.

In 1978, he played mostly for the Savannah Braves, though he also appeared in four games for the Richmond Braves. He hit a combined .255 with 21 home runs in 128 games. He tied Al Greene for second in the SL with 21 long balls and led the loop with 10 sacrifice flies. With Richmond in 1979, he hit .255/.347/.455 with 21 home runs and 75 RBI in 126 games, earning team MVP honors. He tied Sam Bowen for the 1979 International League lead in RBI and ranked fourth in home runs. He was not called up as the 1979 Braves had Dale Murphy and Mike Lum at first.

His chances of making the majors fell in '80 as Chris Chambliss joined Atlanta at first base. Keller spent most of the year at catcher, but Murphy now occupied that space in Atlanta. Keller's average dropped to .197 while with Richmond in 1980, though he still hit 20 home runs with 48 RBI. He had a .306 OBP and slugged .404, keeping himself in the lineup. He was second in the 1980 International League in long balls, 3 behind leader Marshall Brant.

His average dropped again to .191 in 1981, but yet again he eclipsed the 20-home run mark with 22 despite only playing 98 games (mostly at DH). As well, he drove in 60 RBI for Richmond that year. His OBP was .333 and he slugged .420. He played his final year in the Braves system in 1982, hitting .285/.412/.539 with 28 home runs, 81 walks and 93 RBI for Richmond. He tied Marvell Wynne for the International League lead with 14 game-winning RBI. He tied Greg Wells for second in the circuit in circuit clouts, 4 behind leader Steve Balboni. Keller was left off the IL All-Star squad in favor of Brant at DH.

He wound up in the Phillies organization in 1983, playing for the Portland Beavers. In 459 at-bats with them, he slugged 28 home runs while hitting .273/.358/.543 and driving in 75 runners. He placed third in the 1983 Pacific Coast League in homers, four behind co-leaders Kevin McReynolds and Sid Bream.

He moved onto the Syracuse Chiefs in the Blue Jays organization for 1984, hitting .249/.333/.463 with 28 home runs. He earned a spot on the 1984 International League All-Star team that season as the DH. He had led the IL in home runs and had tied Scott Bradley for the most game-winning RBI, 14. In 69 games with the Chiefs in 1985, he hit only .208.

Overall, Keller spent ten years in the minor leagues, hitting .251 with 203 home runs and 942 hits in 1,103 games. Though he played at the AAA in eight seasons and excelled in some of them, he never reached the major leagues.

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