Mitch Thomas Keller
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 195 lb.
- High School Xavier High School (Cedar Rapids)
- Debut May 27, 2019
Pitcher Mitch Keller was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2nd round of the 2014 amateur draft. He began his pro career that year with the GCL Pirates, with no decisions and a 1.98 ERA in 9 games. He again only saw limited action with the Bristol Pirates of the Appalachian League in 2015 making 6 stars and going 0-3, 5.49.
His career began in earnest in 2016, when he was a combined 9-5, 2.35 in 24 starts mainly for the West Virginia Power of the South Atlantic League; he also made one start in the Florida State League, with the Bradenton Marauders, and won that game by giving up no runs in 6 innings. He began 2017 with Bradenton, where he was 6-3, 3.14 in 15 starts. He made a couple of rehabilitation starts for the West Virginia Black Bears of the New York-Penn League and finished the season in AA with the Altoona Curve, for a combined record of 8-5, 3.03. He pitched 116 innings and struck out 116 batters.
In 2018, he asserted himself as the Pirates' top pitching prospect by going 9-2, 2.72 in 14 starts for Altoona. He was promoted to the AAA Indianapolis Indians at the end of June, coinciding with his being named to the United States team for the 2018 Futures Game. He had the honor of starting the game on July 15th at Nationals Park and pitched a perfect 1st inning, retiring all three batters he faced from the World team while tickling 100 mph on the radar gun. He then made 10 more starts for the AAA Indianapolis Indians, going 3-2, 4.82 to finish the year at 12-4, 3.48.
Keller started the 2019 season back in Indianapolis and was 5-0, 3.45 after 5 starts when he was called up by the Bucs to make his major league debut in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds on May 27th. The Pirates had been hesitant to call him up so early in the year but the staff had been riddled by injuries to Jameson Taillon and Trevor Williams as well as ineffective work from spot starters Nick Kingham and Steven Brault. He pitched 4 innings, giving up 6 earned runs on 7 hits, but also striking out 7, and was charged with an 8-1 loss; all six runs came in a rough first before he settled down. After facing 11 batters in the first, he faced 10 over the last 3 innings.
Keller's last starts of 2020 yielded no hits but the latter one produced eight walks. He was the first NL hurler with back-to-back no-hit appearances of five+ innings since Johnny Vander Meer in 1938 and was the first Buc pitcher since Dock Ellis 50 years prior to walk 8 in a no-walk outing.
His brother Jon Keller played in the minor leagues from 2013-2017.