Keller among top prospect performers Sunday

Keller among top prospect performers Sunday

Mitch Keller may soon be able to add Florida State League champion to his long list of accomplishments in 2016.

The Pirates' No. 5 prospect dominated over a career-high eight innings on Sunday to pace Class A Advanced Bradenton in a 9-0 shutout of Tampa and claim a 2-1 series lead in the FSL Finals. He scattered four hits, walked a pair and notched one strikeout to go along with 11 ground-ball outs. He needed just 81 pitches (50 strikes) to complete the outing.

Keller, ranked No. 77 on the Top 100, was named Most Outstanding Pitcher of the South Atlantic League this year after he paced all qualified hurlers in the circuit with a 0.92 WHIP and finished second with a 2.46 ERA in 23 starts for Class A West Virginia. He compiled 131 strikeouts against 18 walks in 124 1/3 innings, and held opposing hitters to a .211 average and permitted just four home runs.

Keller's breakout full-season debut netted him a promotion to Class A Advanced Bradenton before the Florida State League playoffs, and the 20-year-old right-hander responded to the challenge by tossing six scoreless frames with seven strikeouts in his Marauders debut on Aug. 30.

Keller's success continued into postseason play, as he fanned eight batters and allowed three earned runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings to record the win in Game 1 of the FSL semifinals against St. Lucie on Sept. 6. With his win on Sunday, the righty improved to 2-0 in as many playoff starts.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Sunday

• In his debut for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach, No. 25 overall prospect Eloy Jimenez (Cubs' No. 2) went 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI to help the Pelicans defeat Lynchburg, 8-3, and even the Mills Cup championship series at one game apiece. The 19-year-old outfielder was named Midwest League MVP this season after he batted .329/.369/.532 with 57 extra-base hits, 14 home runs and 81 RBIs in 112 games for Class A South Bend.

No. 45 overall prospect Franklin Barreto (A's No. 1) stayed hot for Triple-A Nashville as he finished a single short of the cycle in a 3-for-5 performance, but it wasn't enough to keep the Tides from taking a season-ending loss in Game 5 of the Pacific Coast League semifinals against Oklahoma City, 10-9. The 20-year-old shortstop hit safely in all five games to finish the series with a .421 average with six extra-base hits and four RBIs.

• Fresh off of a two-homer, seven-RBI performance on Friday night, Astros No. 29 prospect Jason Martin hit a pair of homers for the second time in four postseason contests for Class A Advanced Lancaster. The 21-year-old was one of three Minor Leaguers to tally at least 20 home runs (23) and 20 stolen bases (20) during the regular season.

• Barreto wasn't the only A's prospect to homer on Sunday, as Renato Nunez (A's No. 5) and Matt Olson (A's No. 15) went deep in Triple-A Nashville's loss against Oklahoma City. They both finished the contest with two hits, two runs scored and two RBIs.

Cubs No. 4 prospect Dylan Cease helped Class A Short Season Eugene to a 3-1 win in Game 1 of the Northwest League finals. The 20-year-old right-hander allowed two hits and two walks with six strikeouts in four scoreless innings, though he threw just 49 of his 82 pitches for strikes. Cease has yielded five total hits in his last three turns, during which he's posted 24 strikeouts in 14 innings. Pacing the Emeralds at the plate was outfielder D.J. Wilson (Cubs' No. 12), who went 1-for-4 with a solo home run out of the leadoff spot.

D-backs No. 26 prospect Justin Donatella matched his career high with seven strikeouts as he allowed two earned runs in six innings for Class A Advanced Visalia against Bakersfield in Game 2 of the California League division finals. He scattered four hits and walked three in the outing, which saw the 21-year-old right-hander throw 68 of his 99 pitches for strikes.

Indians No. 26 prospect Mike Papi collected two of Double-A Akron's three hits and scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning to help the RubberDucks defeat Altoona, 1-0, and advance to the Eastern League Finals. Papi broke up Brandon Waddell's no-hit bid with his fifth-inning leadoff single, and then delivered a one-out double to right field in the 10th before coming around to score on an Eric Haase single.

Pirates No. 19 prospect Waddell maintained a no-hit bid for four innings en route to tossing seven one-hit frames for Double-A Altoona. The 22-year-old southpaw issued two walks, fanned seven and generated 10 ground-ball outs while throwing 65 of his 103 pitches for strikes in a 1-0 10-inning loss to Akron.

Rangers No. 8 prospect Eric Jenkins filled out the stat sheet as he led Class A Advanced High Desert to a 15-7 win over Lancaster in Game 2 of the California League division finals. The 19-year-old reached base in all five of his plate appearances, going 3-for-3 with a double, two walks and a stolen base. More important, he tallied three RBIs and scored four runs. Catcher Jose Trevino (Rangers' No. 21) also collected three knocks for the Mavericks, finishing 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.