The Pittsburgh Pirates today named first baseman/outfielder Josh Bell their Minor League Player-of-the-Year and Mitch Keller the Minor League Pitcher-of-the-Year. The announcement was made by Larry Broadway, Pirates' Director of Minor League Operations.
Bell hit .295 (124-for-421) with 23 doubles, four triples, 14 home runs, 60 RBI, 57 runs scored, a .382 on-base percentage, .468 slugging percentage and .850 OPS in 114 games this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, where he was named to both the International League's mid- and post-season All-Star teams. Bell is the first player to take home organizational Player- of-the-Year honors twice (also 2014) since the award was created in 2000. The 24-year-old Bell, who was selected by the Pirates in the second round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, finished the season ranked fourth among all International League players in on-base percentage, eighth in slugging percentage and 10th in batting average. The switch-hitting Bell also finished fifth among all Pirates minor leaguers with his 14 home runs, which was a single-season career high.
"Josh has grown a ton over the last few years and put himself in a position to contribute right away at the Major League level upon being called up before the All-Star Break this year," said Broadway. "Earning the Player-of-the-Year award in two of the last three years and finishing runnerup to Max Moroff last year, he has shown a consistent growth through the course of his career offensively while being in the middle of a position change at the upper levels which is a testament to his work ethic, dedication and mastery mindset."
Keller finished the season with a combined record of 9-5 with a 2.35 ERA (130.1ip/34er), 138 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 24 starts between the Single-A West Virginia Power and High-A Bradenton Marauders. The 20-year-old Keller was named to the South Atlantic League's mid- and post-season All-Star teams while also starting and earning the win in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game on June 21. The South Atlantic League's Player-of-the-Month for April finished the season ranked first in the league in WHIP (0.92), second in ERA (2.46) and eighth in strikeouts (131) while also taking home South Atlantic League Most Outstanding Pitcher accolades for the season. Following his late season promotion to Bradenton, Keller helped lead Bradenton to its first ever Florida State League championship after going 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA and nine strikeouts in two starts during the playoffs. Keller, who was selected by Pittsburgh in the second round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, also finished second among all Pirates minor leaguers with 138 strikeouts, trailing only MLBPipeline.com Pitcher-of- the-Year Tyler Glasnow, who led the Pirates minor league system with 144 punchouts.
"It all started in the offseason for Mitch this year," said Broadway. "He did a tremendous job being in the best shape of his life, and being determined to dominate on the field this season. That discipline and dedication in the offseason carried over into the season this year, and allowed him to earn a promotion to Bradenton and be a part of their championship run down the stretch. Mitch has grown a ton and we couldn't be more proud of him."