Josh Michael: Keegan Akin trending up, possibly O’s best pitching prospect

There’s no sugarcoating it, there’s not a lot to be excited about for Orioles fans at the moment. There are, however, several prospects that have seen their stock rise in 2018, and among the top of the class is left-handed pitcher Keegan Akin.

Akin, 23, was selected by the Orioles in the second round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Western Michigan.

Along with right-handed pitchers Cody Sedlock and Matthias Dietz, the O’s used their top three choices in that draft on pitchers, and while Sedlock has struggled with injuries and Dietz is improving, Akin has emerged as possibly the best pitching prospect in the system.

Sure, you could make an argument for Hunter Harvey, DL Hall, Michael Baumann, Zac Lowther or even Tanner Scott, but Akin is putting together quite an impressive 12-month run.

Let’s start with 2018, where Akin has been very good for the Double-A Bowie Baysox as the ace of their staff. He is currently 7-5 with a 2.65 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP over 13 starts and 74 2/3 innings pitched. He has also held opponents to a .204 batting average and has struck out 78, while walking 29.

One of the things I always look at when examining minor leaguers are their splits, regardless if it’s a pitcher or a hitter. For Akin, he has proven incredibly nasty against lefties, holding them to a .153 batting average this season. But he has also more than held his own against righties as well, with them hitting just .223 against him. When you are looking at a starting pitching prospect, you want to see him perform well against hitters from both sides of the plate, and that’s what you are getting from Akin.

Among the Orioles’ minor league pitchers, Akin leads them all in strikeouts, while also ranking second in wins. While he’s proven to be one of the best pitchers in the O’s minor leagues this season, Akin has also shown to be one of the top arms in the Eastern League as well. He currently ranks second in strikeouts, third in ERA, wins and innings pitched, and 11th in WHIP.

Turn back the clock to last fall when Akin was pitching in the prized Arizona Fall League and showed he’s legit. He went 1-1 with a 2.76 ERA and a 0.918 WHIP over nine appearances (one start) and 16 1/3 innings pitched.

When you look at his last 12 months on the mound, it’s hard to find many that have risen their stock more than Akin.

Akin’s repertoire is solid as he owns a fastball in the 90-93 mph range with an above-average slider and solid changeup as well. When you combine that with the fact that he is left-handed, strikes out more than nine per nine-innings and is already pushing for a promotion to Triple-A at the age of 23, it’s hard not to argue that Akin may be the Orioles’ best pitching prospect at the moment.

Josh Michael blogs about the Orioles for Baby Birdland. Follow him on Twitter: @BabyBirdland. His opinions on the Orioles will appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s longstanding initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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