Freshman Spotlight: Stanford’s Aidan Keenan Brings High Ceiling, Thunderous Stuff To Palo Alto


Image credit: Aidan Keenan (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

After not competing for Live Oak (Morgan Hill, Calif.), Aidan Keenan had a loud showing on the summer circuit headlined by a standout performance at the Area Code Games. He carried over the momentum he built during the summer into his senior season, and pitched his way to a minuscule 0.74 ERA while racking up 75 strikeouts across 47 innings pitched. Although there was ample draft chatter surrounding Keenan and there was top three–round interest, he remained steadfast in his commitment to the Cardinal. Remarkably, Stanford has lost just one high school recruit to the draft since 2015.

Lean And Athletic

At 6-foot-1 and 192-pounds, Keenan has a lean and athletic frame. He moves well on the mound and has long, loose arm action with plenty of arm speed. Keenan attacks hitters from a low-three quarters, borderline sidearm slot and has a deceptively low release height. 

His bread-and-butter pitch is his fastball, which will sit in the 92-95 range and top out at 97. It explodes out of his hand and flashes run and ride through the zone. Keenan’s heater is at its best when elevated to the arm side and opposing hitters struggle to make quality contact with the pitch.

In addition to his fastball, Keenan features a high-spin, high-70s curveball. It takes on a slurvey look and has tons of horizontal sweeping action. It consistently garners ugly swings-and-misses, especially from righthanded hitters, and its spin rate has approached 3,000 rpm. Although he throws it sparingly, Keenan also has a low-80s changeup in his arsenal. It plays nicely off his thunderous fastball and at times will show late tumbling life.

A Headliner Arm

Keenan, along with Joey Volchko and Christian Lim, are the headliner arms in Stanford’s freshman class. The Cardinal lost plenty of firepower on the mound, as 2023 Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Quinn Mathews (10-4, 3.75 ERA) and fellow weekend starter Joey Dixon (7-0, 4.73 ERA) were both drafted. Among a handful of other key departures, southpaws Ryan Bruno (2-2, 5.29 ERA) and Drew Dowd (9-3, 4.52 ERA) also heard their names called.

Sophomore righthanders Matt Scott (5-5, 5.10 ERA) and Nick Dugan (1-0, 7.30 ERA) seem destined to pitch full time in the weekend rotation. That leaves a third starting spot up for grabs, and Keenan could be in the mix for it. Even if he does not win the competition for the third weekend starter spot, Keenan has the pure stuff to carve out a meaningful role in his rookie campaign. With his lethal fastball-curveball combination, Keenan could profile best in 2024 as a high-leverage reliever.

Keenan has tantalizing upside, and as he continues to mature physically his stuff will only get better. In order to establish himself as a bonafide starter, Keenan will need to continue to develop a viable third pitch. If he is able to do so, Keenan could be one of the first college arms off the board in 2026 when he is next draft eligible.

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