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Pirates prospect Keller talks AFL, development

MLB.com

The following is an excerpt from this week's Pipeline Podcast, in which Jonathan Mayo interviews Mitch Keller, the Pirates' No. 2 prospect (No. 22 overall). To listen to the show in its entirety, go to the MLB Pipeline Podcast page.

Mayo: What did it mean to you that the Pirates wanted you to go and play in the AFL, especially knowing about the success of the guys who do it?

The following is an excerpt from this week's Pipeline Podcast, in which Jonathan Mayo interviews Mitch Keller, the Pirates' No. 2 prospect (No. 22 overall). To listen to the show in its entirety, go to the MLB Pipeline Podcast page.

Mayo: What did it mean to you that the Pirates wanted you to go and play in the AFL, especially knowing about the success of the guys who do it?

Keller: It is an honor that they think of me that way and want me to compete against the best prospects.

Mayo: Anything in particular that you are going to be working on? What is your mindset?

Keller: I think it is going to be refining all of my pitches and being able to use them against better hitters. I'll learn more about myself.

Mayo: You made it to Double-A at the age of 21. Were you worried at all that you wouldn't make it there because you didn't have enough innings in Bradenton?

Keller: For sure. It was in the back of my mind that my goal wouldn't be reached, but once I came back from that, I knew I just had to keep doing my thing.

Mayo: Was that the same mindset in Altoona? Have you had to check yourself?

Keller: The first start out was nerve-racking, but once I got the first inning out of the way, I knew it was the same game, just with better hitters.

Mayo: Altoona is headed to the playoffs. You've experienced that before with Bradenton. In terms of the stakes, it raises the spotlight, right?

Keller: It does for sure. It is a really fun time to go out and compete. That is all about development too. That gets us ready for the big leagues.

Mayo: You can rely on that previous experience this time around, right?

Keller: For sure. That will help out a lot.

Mayo: Your brother John is a professional in the Orioles system. How often do you guys talk to each other and how much of it is about baseball?

Keller: We talk almost every day, but try not to talk about baseball because it can be hectic and stressful. We mostly talk about Iowa games.

Mayo: You guys are from Iowa. A lot of people don't think of it as a baseball hot bed. How much of a learning curve was it for you guys when you entered pro ball? We talk about guys from the Northeast. You don't get to play as much as other guys from Southern California or the South.

Keller: It was weird going from high school baseball in Iowa to professional baseball with the caliber of players. The game itself was a lot faster and competitive. The guys down south have more of an advantage because they get to play a lot more.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pittsburgh Pirates