Orioles Have High Hopes For 2016 Draftees

SARASOTA, Fla.—After lefthander Keegan Akin was taken in the second round last June by the Orioles he quickly heard from righthander Cody Sedlock, who was Baltimore’s first-round pick.

Akin (Western Michigan) and Sedlock (Illinois) had been teammates with Bourne in the Cape Cod League in 2015 and products of Midwest colleges.

“I had been watching the draft with my family and I texted him right away,” said Sedlock, taking a break from a spring training workout at the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes on a windy March morning.

The two college pitchers had impressive debuts last summer with short-season Aberdeen in the New York-Penn League, giving the Orioles’ minor league system a needed jolt.

Akin was 0-1, 1.04 in nine starts with 29 strikeouts and just seven walks in 26 innings. He held hitters to an average of .161 and had a WHIP of 0.85.

“I knew I would be on a short innings limit,” said Akin, who threw 109 innings for Western Michigan in 2016.

Sedlock was 0-1, 3.00 in nine starts with 25 strikeouts and 13 walks in 27 innings with Aberdeen. He gave up just 16 hits and held opposing hitters to a mark of .158, with a WHIP of 1.07.

Both were assigned to high Class A Frederick to start 2017, an aggressive jump but one advanced college pitchers should be able to handle. Both had solid starts in April, with Sedlock going 3-0, 3.71 (with three of his five starts coming against a powerful Carolina lineup) while Akin was 1-2, 5.85 but with 30 strikeouts in 20 innings.

For good measure outfielder Austin Hays, the Orioles’ third-round pick in 2016 out of Jacksonville, had a strong start last season and has joined the trio at Frederick. Hays hit .336/.386/.514 last summer at Aberdeen and had a swift start for the Keys (.341/.360/.529), although with just two walks and 14 strikeouts in 85 at-bats.

“You love players like him. He has fun out on the field,” said Brian Graham, the director of player development for the Orioles. “He has a really aggressive approach at the plate, on the bases and in the outfield.”

All three players were among the 37 minor league prospects in the Orioles system who showed up early in Sarasota for spring training. All three are in their age-22 seasons.

“I certainly give our staff a lot of credit,” Graham said. “(Sedlock and Akin) threw a lot of innings last year. They went out and accomplished what they needed to do. I am very pleased with what is going on” with the most recent draft.

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