Orioles Nation was fortunate to speak with Delmarva RHP Jon Keller over the weekend, discussing his season and the progression of his game as he enjoys his first full season as a professional baseball player.
Keller is having a terrific season for the Shorebirds, pitching 33.0 innings with 18 H, 6 R, 10 BB and 42 K. He currently sports a stellar 1.64 ERA and has been one of the main cogs in a Delmarva bullpen that is pitching lights out.
Orioles Nation: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Jon. We know how busy the season can be, and the minor league grind can be difficult. You have put together a fine start to the season, and everything seems to be firing on all cylinders. In your eyes, what has been the biggest reason for your success this season?
Jon Keller: I feel like the key to my success is being able to command my fastball to both sides of the plate. If you can establish both parts of the plate with your fastball, everything else works off of that. The plate really opens up for your secondary pitches. I also feel like knowing how to pitch to certain hitters is really helping me as well. Learning what pitch to throw in what situation has been huge for me.
ON: Can you go into detail about your arsenal? From my experience watching you, I have seen a mid-90′s fastball, along with a changeup and slider.
JK: I throw a fastball, changeup and slider My best pitch is my fastball and is also my favorite pitch. My slider has improved drastically over the last year and has been very effective for me this season. My changeup is also coming along nicely. I have been looking for oppurtunities to throw it more in games so I can keep developing it.
ON: Have there been any mechanical differences made in your delivery since college? I often find that one of the first aspects of pro ball for a pitcher is the tinkering of mechanics.
JK: I have changed quite a bit about my mechanics. I slid all the way over to the first base side of the mound and have been working on the direction of my stride and the length of it as well. I think this has helped me throw a lot more strikes and be able to do so consistently.
JK: Chance and Austin are both great catchers. I played summer ball with Wynns two years ago so I knew him and already had some feel with him behind the plate. Sisco and I played in the GCL together last summer so I became comfortable with him then. Both are great catchers with tremendous skills. I love throwing to both of them
ON: Final question. You started in college, and I know there has been talk about a potential move back into the rotation down the road. Are you ready for that, or are you more comfortable in the pen (as you have been very dominant)?
JK: I am comfortable with both. I was a little nervous for the bullpen this year because I have never been a bullpen pitcher before. So I’m always asking guys for advice on how to deal with certain situations or what works for them in the bullpen. I have now become very comfortable in the bullpen and love it. Starting is totally different than the bullpen for me. I would love to become a starter again but that is out of my control. I am comfortable with both but would definitely like to start again.
Once again, thanks to Jon for taking the time to answer our questions. With a fastball that tops 97 mph, there is certainly a lot to be excited about with the young righty. Best of luck down the road!