For 22-year-old right-hander Cody Sedlock, the 2018 season provides a chance to show he’s healthy and a chance to get back to pitching well again.
Taken by the Orioles with their top selection - the No. 27 overall pick - in the First-Year Player Draft in 2016, Sedlock had a solid debut that summer. He pitched to an ERA of 3.00 at short-season Single-A Aberdeen. When the Orioles sent him to Single-A Frederick to start last season - bypassing Single-A Delmarva - big things were expected out of this top pick.
Sedlock had an ERA of 1.64 after four starts in the Carolina League, but the outstanding start to his season didn’t hold. In May his ERA was 9.13 in five starts.
He would make two trips to the disabled list. From July 1-22, he was out with a right elbow flexor strain. He ended the season on the DL again with a right forearm strain. Sedlock went 4-5 with a 5.90 ERA for the Keys. The pitcher that was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year as a junior at Illinois was not used to numbers like this.
Some feared and/or speculated the worst could be coming.
In the end, a surgery was not needed and Sedlock got a stem cell injection in the flexor tendon in early September and now he feels like a new man.
“Since then, I haven’t had any problems. My arm feels better than it has in a long time,” he said recently during an interview at O’s minor league camp at the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park.
Sedlock also wanted to set the record straight. He disputes there is any truth to a rumor that his elbow may have gotten hurt because he made delivery tweaks to try and gain velocity.
“I don’t know where that came from,” he said. “I’ve had people ask me that. I didn’t intentionally change anything going into the season last year. It was a thing where my mechanics did change throughout the season. But I think that was because of different things. Not because I intentionally did it. I don’t know if I was compensating for my elbow because I didn’t have the strength or what it was.
“But eventually I kept kind of digging myself into a bigger hole with it. Maybe I didn’t seek the right help and maybe took in some help that I shouldn’t have taken in.
“I kind of went back and cleared my head and went back and watched video with some people. Coming out of college and having the success I had, I don’t think I needed to change anything.”
And even though Sedlock had that fast start in 2017 and was among the early Carolina League ERA leaders, there were signs trouble could be ahead. By then he had felt what he called some nagging discomfort in his elbow. It would eventually lead to the two DL stints and the stem cell injection.
“Those first few starts, I still didn’t feel like myself. But I kind of worked through it and still was able to get guys out without my best stuff,” he said.
Now Sedlock wants to show the Orioles once again that he was worthy of being a top draft pick and getting a signing bonus of just over $2 million. That he can look like the pitcher that debuted so well in Aberdeen after the draft and the one that was so good for Frederick early last year.
His arm, he said, is healthy and is very ready for that.
“Yeah, I feel better than I did even before the draft. I feel great,” he said.
Going through a tough 2017 season has made him tougher.
“I’m not going to lie. It was very distressing at the time,” Sedlock said. “But I think it is going to help me in the long run. I’ve gone through the worst and it really has strengthened me mentally. I have a completely different outlook on the game and my professional career. My mind and body are so much stronger now. I feel great.”