Keen gets talent, drive from brothers

Josh Keen is one of the top pitchers in the city. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Josh Keen is the youngest of four brothers, and he’s learned a lot from the ones who came before him.

His oldest brother is Aaron, 25. He was a star pitcher at George Washington High School and pitched the Eagles to a playoff victory during his senior year.

Jason, 20, is a graduate of Archbishop Ryan. He was All-Catholic his final two years of high school.

And Matt, who gave up baseball for a little while, was a star playing for Philadelphia Academy Charter grade school.

Josh is the fourth, and he was very careful to learn a lot from his older brothers.

“My two older brothers were great at throwing curveballs and off-speed stuff,” said Keen, a rising sophomore at Philadelphia Academy Charter. “They were both great pitchers in high school, and they always help me. Matt was good, too, but he didn’t want to keep playing, but he’s helped me a lot, too. I’ve learned from all of them.”

The student might be better than all the teachers.

If experts are right, Keen is one of the top pitchers in the state.

According to a scouting service, Keen is a top 10 player and top five pitcher in the class of 2023. He’s gone to a lot of showcases, including one this year in Pittsburgh, that had him going against some of the top talent in the country.

And he more than holds his own when pitching to greats.

“It’s fun to go to the showcases because you want to see how you’ll do against great players,” said Keen, who is playing for the Bucks County Generals, an AAU team, this summer. “I love playing baseball and it was hard to play around here for a long time, so it felt good to get back to playing. And it’s fun to see how you do when you’re playing against players that are some of the best.”

Keen is certainly in the discussion when it comes to top baseball players in the area.

He was slated to be one of the top players in the city this year before coronavirus wiped out the season. Had he played, he would have given the Public League fits.

As a freshman, Keen’s fastball was clocked at 86 miles per hour. That’s pretty good for a youngster, and even more impressive when you consider that’s not his best pitch.

Remember, he learned from his brothers.

“I think my best pitch is a curveball,” Keen said. “I like to throw that, it’s usually my best pitch. I like off-speed stuff, but my fastball is getting better. Hitting 86 isn’t bad, I’m still working on everything.”

It’s been tough this spring.

Everything has been shut down because of coronavirus, so Keen wasn’t able to get in any games at Philadelphia Academy Charter. It was tough because it spoiled some memories for him.

“I was upset because my brother Matt was going to come out and play this year, it would have let me play with him for a year,” Keen said. “I wanted to play, too, because I love baseball and it would have been fun to play as a freshman. It would be good to get a year of experience and see what I could do.”

Keen wasn’t able to take the mound or compete in any kind of game, but he did do whatever he could to stay in baseball shape.

He spent a lot of time in his backyard working out with his dad, who gave him a few pointers and helped him stay sharp.

He also worked out with mom.

This didn’t help with throwing, but he credits the workouts with making him a better pitcher.

“My mom did yoga and I did that with her,” said Keen, who got some help from a neighbor who is a yoga instructor. “We didn’t talk a lot during workouts, but it was fun to work out with her. I was surprised how much the yoga helped. It’s a lot of stretching, and I really think it helped me a lot. It was good to get these workouts in because we didn’t have other kinds. I think it’ll help a lot.”

It’s not a stretch to say Keen has some big things ahead of him.

He is proud of his national rankings, but he doesn’t let it distract him.

He knows if he wants to reach his goals, where he’s ranked as a rising sophomore won’t mean much. He has to prove himself every day to get to where he wants to end up.

“My goal is to eventually get drafted, that’s what I’m hoping for (out of high school),” Keen said. “But I want to just keep getting better. I know I can still get better. The more I pitch, the better I’ll get. I’m learning a lot.

“It’s good to have my brothers, I know I can always ask them if I have a question, we’re all close and we talk all the time. They don’t get to all my games because they’re busy, but when I have a question or need something, they’re always there. They’ve helped me a lot, and I know they always will.”