WASHINGTON - It may be easy to lose the name of Alec Keller in the starting lineup for Triple-A Rochester, the new top farm team of the Nationals.
But the Nationals certainly know the value of the veteran outfielder, who was drafted by Washington out of Princeton in the 17th round in 2014.
“A first-class individual,” Mark Scialabba, assistant general manager, player development for the Nats told Federal Baseball recently.
Keller worked his way up to Triple-A Fresno by 2019, then was a victim of the pandemic last year that called off the minor league season. The Nationals were about to lose one minor league affiliate, and with no season in 2020 the Richmond native was released on May 31, 2020.
He was signed back by the Nationals on April 25 of this year and then went 0-for-1 on Thursday as Rochester lost at Lehigh Valley.
Then on Friday, Keller started in center field and went 1-for-4 with a run and two RBIs as Rochester won 10-3 at Lehigh Valley. It was the first win for Rochester - a farm team of the Twins in 2019 - in 615 days.
The starting lineup for Rochester included some more high-profile names than Keller.
Luis García started at second base for manager Matt LeCroy, the former Nationals’ bullpen coach, while Carter Kieboom got the nod at third base.
Both players, who saw time for the Nationals in 2020, had two hits and drove in three runs.
The fans in Lehigh Valley probably know about Gerardo Parra, he of “Baby Shark” fame. He started in left and hit second in the lineup behind Garcia and in front of Kieboom - and had two hits.
Kyle McGowin, who has pitched for the Nationals in the past few years, threw the ninth inning for Rochester and did not allow a run or hit.
Keller, a native of Richmond, certainly doesn’t have the profile of some of his Rochester teammates.
But the Nationals know his story and character.
“He has done a nice job. We know the individual we are getting back,” Scialabba said.
“He is going to go out there and compete. He is an A-plus individual with great makeup and intellect. He is someone we like a lot.”
Keller may not have the prospect status such as other outfielders who came before him, such as Juan Soto or Victor Robles. But if he makes the majors, his story will resonate with the front office that signed him back after a forgettable 2020 minor league season in the industry.