Indianapolis pitching coach Joel Hanrahan says his foremost goal is restoring Mitch Keller’s confidence.
It seems like that’s already happening.
Keller made his first appearance Wednesday for Triple-A Indianapolis, tossing a scoreless inning in the Indians’ 6-1 win over the Memphis Redbirds. But that doesn’t even begin to describe his dominance.
The right-hander fanned two batters and threw seven of his eight pitches for strikes, per the Post-Gazette’s Mike Persak. His fastball pumped all the way up to 98 mph.
The Pirates optioned Keller to the minor leagues last week after an abysmal start against the Dodgers, in which he surrendered four runs in 2.2 innings of work. Overall, Keller is sporting a 7.04 ERA at the big league level. His numbers since May 4 are especially ugly: 23 innings, 20 runs, 30 hits, 14 walks.
At this point, it’s hard to believe he was once ranked the No. 12 prospect in Baseball America.
Still, Keller possesses filthy stuff, and it’s apparent the Pirates aren’t giving up on him. Given their pitching woes, he should be back up this summer.
Hanrahan told The Fan Morning Show he wants Keller to return to Pittsburgh with a different strut.
“It’s one of those things where you just kind of have to start getting more confident and showing your confidence,” he said. “One of the things I tell my guys is, ‘Dude you throw 97 mph. Act like it. Walk around like you’re a bad dude.’ I think that’s going to be one of the things for him.”
Blowing 98 mph fastballs past helpless hitters is a great start.