TODAY: Keller will receive a $1MM bonus, tweets MLB.com’s Jim Callis. That means that Pittsburgh will have to account for a $113.2K overage, which is less than the team saved in signing first-rounder Cole Tucker.
YESTERDAY: Second-round draft selection Mitch Keller tells Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register that he’s agreed to terms with the Pirates and will travel to Pittsburgh tomorrow and sign a contract on Friday. The assigned pick value for the No. 64 overall selection is $886,800, according to Baseball America.
Keller, a high school right-hander out of Cedar Rapids, Ia. and North Carolina commit, ranked 65th among draft prospects according to ESPN’s Keith Law, 69th according to Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com and 76th according to Baseball America. According to those scouting reports, Keller’s stock rose this spring as his fastball added some velocity, and he now sits in the low 90s, touching 94-95 mph on occasion. He also has a curveball that’s better at present than his changeup. Law notes that he has a real chance to have two plus pitches (his fastball and curve), giving him a floor of a high-leverage reliever and the ceiling of a No. 3 starter.
Keller tells Birch that the decision between signing and attending UNC was difficult, but he feels he made the right choice and that beginning his pro career is a “dream come true.” Birch writes that Keller finished his final season at Xavier High School — the same school that produced big league outfielder Ryan Sweeney — with a 1.72 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings.
The Pirates have the ability to above slot to sign Keller, if necessary, due to the fact that first-round pick Cole Tucker signed for about $125K below slot, agreeing to a $1.8MM bonus on Monday. Keller’s older brother, Jon, is a right-handed pitcher in the Orioles’ system.