Neither the cold weather nor Double-A Akron's hitters stood any chance against Mitch Keller on Sunday in his season debut for Altoona.
Taking the mound with a game time temperature of 34 degrees, Keller, Pittsburgh's No. 1 prospect (No. 15 overall), burned through the RubberDucks' lineup, allowing just two hits in six scoreless innings to pace Altoona in a combined three-hit shutout. He struck out eight and issued two walks.
Keller allowed leadoff hits in the first and third innings, both singles, before retiring nine of the final 10 batters he faced as he capped his performance with swinging strikeouts of Bobby Bradley and Tyler Krieger, Cleveland's Nos. 3 and 25 prospects. Seven of the 22-year-old's eight strikeouts were of the swing-and-miss variety and he induced another six outs via ground balls, ultimately throwing 49 of his 77 pitches for strikes in the start.
MILB Video - Title: Keller's eighth strikeout - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1919023883
Pacing the Curve's offense was Will Craig, as the Pirates' No. 23 prospect connected on a two-run shot in the fifth inning for his second home run in as many days in the 4-0 victory. Shortstop Cole Tucker (Pirates' No. 5) also had a strong game, going 2-for-4 and scoring a run out of the leadoff spot. Bryan Reynolds (No. 6) went 1-for-2 with an RBI double.
The rest of the best performances from top prospects Sunday
• No. 3 overall prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays' No. 1) belted a tape-measure solo home run for Double-A New Hampshire, his first at the Double-A level. It was the 19-year-old third baseman's lone hit in four at-bats, while 20-year-old shortstop Bo Bichette (No. 13 overall, Blue Jays' No. 2) collected two hits for a third straight game after an 0-for-4 season debut. On the mound for the Fisher Cats, starter Sean Reid-Foley (Blue Jays' No. 10) did not allow a hit after the first inning en route to completing six scoreless frames. He struck out seven and walked three in the outing, throwing 52 of his 84 pitches for strikes.
MILB Video - Title: Guerrero Jr. goes yard - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1918861283
• No. 5 overall prospectGleyber Torres (Yankees' No. 1) played the hero for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, hitting a go-ahead two-run single in the top of the ninth inning that proved to be the difference in the RailRiders' 5-4 win against Syracuse. The hit was one of four collected by the 21-year-old infielder, who finished the game 4-for-5 one day after connecting on his first 2018 home run.
MILB Video - Title: Torres' fourth hit - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1918940183
• No. 29 overall prospect Juan Soto (Nationals' No. 2) finished a double short of the cycle as he powered Class A Hagerstown in a 6-2 win over Rome. The 19-year-old outfielder hit a solo homer in the first inning -- his second this season -- cleared the bases with a triple in the second and went on to add a pair of singles to finish 4-for-5 with four RBIs. One of the better pure hitters in the Minors, Soto owns a .363/.418/.552 batting line in 87 career games.
MILB Video - Title: Soto notches fourth hit - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1918964483
• No. 38 overall prospectJack Flaherty (Cardinals' No. 2) allowed one earned run on five hits and struck out 11 over seven innings to record the win in his season debut for Triple-A Memphis. The 22-year-old righty broke camp in the big leagues, where he posted five innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts in a fill-in start for injured Adam Wainwright. Pacing the Redbirds at the plate was none other than Tyler O'Neill (No. 94 overall, Cardinals' No. 4), who blasted his fourth two-run home run in as many games. He finished the game 3-for-4 with three RBIs, accounting for much of the offense in the Redbirds' 4-1 victory over Round Rock.
MILB Video - Title: Flaherty's ninth strikeout - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1697833783
• D-backs No. 24 prospect Brian Shaffer recorded nine of his 14 outs via strikeout in a no-decision for Class A Kane County. Working 4 2/3 innings, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound righty allowed as many hits as walks (two), while throwing 56 of his 85 pitches for strikes.
• Dodgers No. 6 prospectDJ Peters went 2-for-5 with two solo home runs as Double-A Tulsa defeated Midland in Texas League play. The 2017 Class A Advanced California League MVP had three multi-homer games last season, when he finished third in the circuit with 27 homers.
MILB Video - Title: Peters' first homer - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1919204783
• Marlins No. 12 prospect Brian Miller doubled and scored two runs to finish 4-for-5 as Class A Advanced Jupiter walked off against Palm Beach, 8-7. Selected No. 36 overall in last year's Draft, the 22-year-old outfielder is batting .412 (7-for-17) through four games so far after slashing .322/.384/.416 over 57 games with Class A Greensboro during his pro debut.
• Make it four straight games with two hits for Josh Naylor. After starring in both games of Double-A San Antonio's doubleheader sweep Saturday, the Padres' No. 16 prospect smashed his third home run this season, highlighting a 3-for-6, three-RBI performance by the 20-year-old first baseman. Overall, Naylor sports a .563 average with 10 RBIs through four games.
MILB Video - Title: Naylor goes deep - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1919418983
• Rockies No. 5 prospectPeter Lambert matched Reid-Foley with six scoreless frames of his own. The 20-year-old right-hander scattered five hits with one walk while striking out five and generating another eight outs on the ground.
• Royals No. 3 prospect Seuly Matias homered for a third straight game and the fourth time this season, as his three-run shot in the second inning proved to be the difference in Class A Lexington's 7-4 win in game one of a doubleheader versus Charleston. The 19-year-old outfielder added a triple in the nightcap, giving him five extra-base hits in 15 at-bats through four games after homering seven times in 22 at-bats last season with Rookie-level Burlington.
MILB Video - Title: Matias goes yard - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1918080283
• Royals No. 1 prospect Khalil Lee hit a triple and walked twice while going 2-for-3, though it wasn't enough to keep Class A Advanced Wilmington from falling to Potomac, 3-2. It was the 19-year-old outfielder's second multi-hit performance in four games, each of which he's now recorded at least one hit and one run. Blue Rocks starter Gerson Garabito (No. 28) was impressive in a no-decision, tossing six scoreless innings of one-hit ball with nine strikeouts.
• Tigers No. 11 prospectMike Gerber continued his red-hot start for Triple-A Toledo by connecting on a two-run homer in the first inning that proved the difference in a 2-1 win over Louisville. The 25-year-old outfielder has gone deep twice in three games and owns a .586 average (7-for-12) thanks to multiple hits in each contest.