By Jason Shetler
On Friday, the Pirates announced Josh Bell as the 2016 Minor League Player of the Year, while Mitch Keller was named their 2016 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Bell entered this year as the Pirates third ranked prospect in the system. The switch-hitting first baseman put up productive numbers for AAA Indianapolis, hitting .295 with an .850 OPS, good for fifth best in the International League. Bell received his call up to Pittsburgh on July 8th. In just his second game, he belted his first MLB home run on a pinch-hit grand slam against the Chicago Cubs. During his time with the Pirates, Bell has posted a .407 on base percentage, which is tops among NL rookies with at least 100 plate appearances.
Keller was the biggest breakout prospect in the system this season. The Pirates #5 prospect dominated South Atlantic League batters, posting a 2.46 ERA along with a league best 0.92 WHIP and a K/9 of 9.5 in 23 starts for the West Virginia Power. Keller was promoted to the Bradenton Marauders on August 30th. In his only start for the Marauders, he pitched six scoreless innings against the Jupiter Hammerheads. Keller will return to Bradenton to begin next season.