Miami Marlins Putting Faith in Right-Handed Reliever Kyle Keller

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: A detailed view of Marlins Park during the game between the Miami Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park on June 25, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JUNE 25: A detailed view of Marlins Park during the game between the Miami Marlins and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Marlins Park on June 25, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Kyle Keller fast-tracked through the Miami Marlins upper minor league system in 2018.

Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 241 of 286.

Kyle Robert Keller is a 6’4″, 180 lb. right-handed reliever from New Orleans, Louisiana, population 393,292. There are 70 players who have advanced to the majors after being born in the The Big Easy, including Will Clark, Ron Washington, and Rusty Staub. Keller attended Jesuit HS in New Orleans.

Keller wasn’t drafted after graduating with the Class of 2012, and joined Southeastern Louisiana University for four seasons of Division I ball in the Southland Conference. As a senior, he struck out 40 in 36 innings, holding opponents to a 1.06 WHIP and a 2.75 ERA.

The Miami Marlins chose Keller in the 18th round of the 2015 MLB Amateur Entry Draft. Picked 536th overall, he would be the ninth player to make the majors after being selected at the spot. The group is led by Ben Weber (1991, Toronto Blue Jays, 3.0 career WAR).

After coming to terms with the Miami Marlins, Keller reported to the Batavia Muckdogs in the short-season-A New York-Penn League. Through his first professional season, he also appeared with the single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers in the South Atlantic League and with the Jupiter Hammerheads in the high-A Florida State League. He managed a terrible 1.72 WHIP, but showed flashes of something better, with 34 K’s in only 26 innings. You can follow Keller on Twitter @keller_11.

In 2016, Keller spent the entirety of his campaign with the Grasshoppers, who went 65-75. Keller posted a 3-2 record, ranking fourth on the club with 29 appearances. He had a 3.35 ERA and 57 K’s in 45 2/3 innings for an 11.23 K/9, while walking only 13 batters.

Keller repeated single-A with Greensboro in 2017, and was a lot better even than his standout 2016 campaign. He went 2-0 with a 2.28 ERA in a team-second 36 appearances. He led the team with eight saves, struck out a team-third 86 batters in only 67 innings, and racked up a 1.06 WHIP. Keller only surrendered 21 walks for a solid 4.10 K/BB, and struck out 11.55 batters per nine innings.

As Keller turned 25, nothing held him back from multiple promotions in 2018. He began the season with the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League, going 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA and 22 K’s over 17 innings, with a 0.71 WHIP and only one walk. Here’s Keller in the Arizona Fall League after the 2018 season, courtesy of Baseball Census:

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Keller joined the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp in the double-A Southern League on May 21st, and aside from one disastrous outing on July 18th in which he allowed seven runs in 2/3 of an inning, he was nearly unhittable. Setting that contest aside, Keller gave up 17 hits in 28 1/3 innings, striking out 45 and holding the opposition to a .172 average and a 1.165 WHIP. Between July 22nd and August 11th, he only allowed three hits and struck out 15 in 10 innings.

With three weeks left in the minor league season, Keller was promoted once more, to the triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes in the Pacific Coast League. In a small sample size, he struck out 10 in 6 2/3 innings, and allowed four hits.

Nothing is keeping Keller from a solid Spring Training and a surprise spot on the Miami Marlins Opening Day roster. Look for him to begin the season either with the Baby Cakes or on the parent club in Miami.

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