Keegan Akin Opens Eyes At Double-A
With his health no longer an issue, lefthander Keegan Akin can go back to getting out hitters and allowing the Orioles to envision him in their rotation somewhere down the road.
Akin put together a streak at Double-A Bowie of five straight starts without surrendering more than two earned runs until hitting a small bump on May 16. Through nine starts he went 4-4, 3.38 with an Eastern League-leading 53 strikeouts and 20 walks in 50.2 innings. Opponents hit just .225.
A 2016 second-round pick out of Western Michigan, Akin made 21 starts at high Class A Frederick in 2017. He didn’t pitch after Aug. 4 because of a pulled oblique muscle and was slow played in the spring.
The 23-year-old Akin’s impressive five-game streak this spring included just five earned runs allowed in 30.1 innings.
"You look at those staffs (in the minors), I don’t think anybody’s pitched better than Keegan Akin right now,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He’s been impressive. I always challenge fans to get out to Bowie and watch him pitch."
Akin tossed 6.2 scoreless innings on May 11 against Hartford, allowing four hits, walking one batter and striking out six to lower his ERA to 2.75.
"Keep your eye on Keegan Akin,” executive vice president Dan Duquette said. "(Special assistant) Lee Thomas was there to see his last outing and he sent me a text that said, ‘He could have pitched for any club in the big leagues tonight.’ And Lee doesn’t do that very often, but he likes this kid."
Taking care of his body is keeping Akin on the mound and the Orioles' radar as they possibly move toward a rebuild that could present an opportunity for him later in the summer or in spring training next year.
"I think he worked hard in the offseason on his conditioning," Duquette said. "He’s got a better understanding of the stresses of the major league starting pitcher job. And everybody gets a glint in their eye when they talk about (Bowie teammate) Hunter Harvey. He’s pitching well, too . . .
"Akin and Harvey, they should come along.”
Branden Kline Is Healthy But Not Satisfied
Fully healthy and coming off a strong 2018, the 27-year-old Kline was added to the Orioles' 40-man roster this offseason.
>> The Orioles promoted righthander Michael Baumann from low Class A Delmarva to Frederick. The 2017 third-rounder out of Jacksonville went 5-0, 1.42 in seven starts with the Shorebirds. He had a 0.95 WHIP in 38 innings and opponents hit .180 against him.
>> Righthander Branden Kline, a 2012 second-round pick out of Virginia, was pitching again after having Tommy John surgery and experiencing a couple of setbacks. He moved up to Bowie after recording a 1.31 ERA in 12 games with Frederick. Kline is being used in relief and is making the slow climb back to prospect status.