After the Orioles drafted Sedlock with the 27th pick in the first round out of the University of Illinois, he got his feet wet in pro ball last summer throwing 27 innings and pitching to an ERA of 3.00 at short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
Fast forward to 2017 spring training. It was Feb. 28 and the Orioles were playing their fifth exhibition game, facing the Phillies in Clearwater. Sedlock was called over from minor league camp. Often the “just in case” pitchers don’t make it into the game. This was not one of those days though.
Before he knew it, Sedlock was told to warmup and then he was called to pitch in a major league game for the first time. Spring training or not, he was on the mound in Clearwater, Fla., and wearing a jersey that said Orioles, not IronBirds.
But Sedlock, a pitcher used to a lot of success, had a rough eighth inning. Brock Stassi hit a three-run homer and Aaron Altherr added a solo shot as Philly came from 5-3 down to beat the Orioles 7-5.
“It was a start,” Showalter said that afternoon. “Get him out there, get his feet wet, something to work on, something to work from. I liked the fact that he got back in the strike zone after the wind-blown home run. Things like that could kind of be good for you. I don’t think he needs it. He’s a good kid. He’ll learn from it. It’s good.”
Known as a mentally tough kid, Sedlock used the inning against the Phillies as motivation and it didn’t stop him from getting off a strong start this season for Single-A Frederick.
The Orioles bumped Sedlock past Single-A Delmarva and right to the Carolina League for this year. Through his first four starts with the Keys, he went 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA that ranked sixth-best in the league. Over those 22 innings, the 21-year-old Sedlock had given up just 10 hits and no home runs with eight walks and 16 strikeouts.
Sedlock finally got hit around a bit in his last start on Sunday, when he allowed 10 hits and seven runs over 4 2/3 innings as his ERA climbed to 3.71. He is scheduled to start for the Keys tonight at Carolina. This will be his fourth start against that club already.
But it is that game against the Phillies that remains pretty fresh in his mind and he said it was a very valuable experience for a young pitcher.
“I wouldn’t change it for anything,” he told me recently. “They say you have a ‘Welcome to the big leagues’ moment. It was just like that. I had been at early minor league camp about a week and a half before that and I was feeling out all my pitches and they called me over. It was like, ‘Wow, wonder if I get a chance to pitch?’
“When they told me to warm up, things started moving pretty fast. If anything, it helped me. I got back to minor league camp after that and it made me work that much harder.”
And we see the early results at Frederick. So far Sedlock is making the Orioles’ decision for him to skip Delmarva look pretty good. He feels his secondary pitches, especially his changeup, are making big strides, but everything flows off his two-seam fastball, which features late heavy sink.
“My fastball has been solid right now. I focused on it during the spring, just working on the command of it. So far I’ve been able to keep hitters off-balance with it and get some weak contact with it.”
Sedlock threw a lot of four-seam fastballs at one time, but he said about halfway through his final college season he started to throw two-seamers with about 90 percent of his fastballs because he was getting such strong movement and sink with the pitch. He’ll throw from 92-94 mph, touching more at times, and he also throws a slider, curve and changeup.
As a pitcher drafted out of college, you have to wonder if Sedlock, should he keep progressing and improving, will be promoted to Double-A Bowie at some point this season.
That is something he is not even thinking about.
“That is completely out of my hands,” he said. “I would be pitching with the same competitiveness level if they had me down in the GCL (Gulf Coast League). It’s one of those things where you know the cards will fall in your favor if you pitch your game.”
So far he is doing just that. He’s living up to the hype of being a talented top draft pick.
O’s end impressive stretch: The Orioles beat the Red Sox 8-3 last night with one of their best offensive games of the year. It came at a time they needed it. They split the four-game serie at Fenway Park and come home with a 17-10 record.
That game ended a season-opening stretch where the Orioles played 24 of their first 27 games against American League East teams. They went an impressive 15-9 (.625) in those division games and are 5-4 versus Boston.
In the first three games at Boston, they scored nine runs on 18 hits and went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Last night they scored eight on 17 hits to tie a season high and went 5-for-18 with RISP. The Orioles hit three homers in that series - all by Manny Machado.
Right-hander Tyler Wilson, making that start on little notice, was solid. Over six innings, he gave up six hits and three runs and is 2-1 with a 4.91 ERA. In three career games at Fenway Park, Wilson has allowed three runs over 17 innings for an ERA of 1.59.
Now can the O’s keep the intensity and the winning going as they play their next 13 games against the White Sox, Nationals, Royals and Tigers?