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Pirates notes: Cole, Keller and other AFL pitchers

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t new, but in case you missed it, the Twins supposedly have inquired about Pirates righty Gerrit Cole and Rays righty Jake Odorizzi. I seriously doubt there’s anything to this beyond the Twins doing some due diligence in exploring their pitching possibilities. Every public utterance from the Pirates, though always a little on the cryptic side, has indicated that they plan to try to “compete” next year with their existing nucleus, which certainly includes Cole. The Twins aren’t loaded with high-end prospects, either, so I don’t see them overwhelming the Pirates. And even if the Bucs were interested in trading Cole, there’s no point in fantasizing about Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Those guys are arguably the two biggest reasons the Twins feel ready to go for it. Trading either away would defeat the purpose of acquiring Cole.

Elsewhere in the tissue-thin market for Pirate news, both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline have named righty Mitch Keller the top pitching prospect in the Arizona Fall League. BA ranked him third overall and MLB Pipeline fourth. Consistent with earlier scouting reports, everybody is highly impressed with his fastball, not just the velocity but the movement and command. He also showed a plus curve and an “improving” or “effective” change, depending on which source you read.

BA’s Bill Mitchell also listed lefty Taylor Hearn as a prospect “on the rise.” Mitchell cited his plus fastball and “at least . . . average slider.” MLB Pipeline listed righty J.T. Brubaker as a “prospect who stood out.” Working in short stints, Brubaker showed a 95-98 mph fastball and late-breaking slider. You have to wonder what he might do with a permanent move to the pen.