Mitch Keller
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Pirates set to promote top prospect Mitch Keller

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MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo reports that the Pirates will promote top pitching prospect Mitch Keller in advance of their doubleheader against the Reds on Monday. Confirmation of the move is still pending an official announcement, but Keller will reportedly face off against Sonny Gray in Game 2.

Keller, 23, is currently listed as the Pirates’ no. 1 prospect and the no. 16 overall prospect in the league, per MLB.com. He was selected in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft and has spent the last six years refining his technique in Pittsburgh’s farm system, where he recently made the jump to Triple-A Indianapolis in 2018. So far this season, he’s 5-0 in nine starts with a 3.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, and 10.7 SO/9 through 47 innings.

It’s not clear how long of a leash the Pirates will give Keller, though given the current state of their rotation — down to four serviceable starters with Jameson Taillon on the 60-day injured list (right elbow flexor strain), Trevor Williams on the 10-day IL (right side strain), and a handful of replacements yet to impress — they may be inclined to keep him on a little longer than his spot start requires.

Giants sign Darin Ruf to minor league contract

Darin Ruf
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The Athletic’s Jayson Stark reports that the Giants have signed 1B/OF Darin Ruf to a minor league contract.

Ruf, 33, played parts of five seasons in the majors with the Phillies from 2012-16, enjoying occasional offensive success. He spent the last three seasons in the KBO League in South Korea with the Samsung Lions, reigniting his career. Ruf hit an aggregate .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs and 350 RBI over 1,756 plate appearances.

Ruf joins an ever-increasing list of players whose major league careers fizzled out, then found new life overseas — Eric Thames and Miles Mikolas are a couple of examples. Ruf will hope to prove himself as a big leaguer once more in spring training with the Giants.