Orioles director of scouting Gary Rajsich set out to get three college pitchers last night in the 2016 amateur draft and achieved his goal with Illinois right-hander Cody Sedlock at No. 27, Western Michigan left-hander Keegan Akin at No. 54 and John A. Logan Community College right-hander Matthias Dietz at No. 69.
Rajsich speculated that all three pitchers will begin their professional careers at Single-A short-season Aberdeen. Of course, the Orioles must sign them.
Rajsich, made available to the media via conference call, noted how Sedlock was the Big 10 Conference's Pitcher of the Year.
"He struck out 116 hitters in 101 innings, he's durable and athletic, he has a good arm and he repeats his mechanics well," Rajsich said. "He has good command and control of a fastball, breaking ball and changeup."
The Orioles began following Sedlock last summer in the Cape Cod League. Sedlock and Akin were teammates on Bourne, managed by Orioles part-time scout Harvey Shapiro.
Sedlock, who also appeared on the conference call, thanked the Orioles for the opportunity, mentioned his friendship with Midwest area scout Dan Durst and how his parents attended a spring training game this year.
"This is the greatest day of my life and I'm so excited to be part of this organization," he said.
"It wasn't really that much of a surprise, but I'm excited for this."
Here's more from Rajsich and Sedlock:
Rajsich on the desire to draft college pitchers: "We did target some good arms and we feel very fortunate that we were able to get them. We did have some position players that we liked and they were kind of safety valves for us if it worked out that way, but we're very pleased to get the arms that we got."
Rajsich on passing up bigger names for Sedlock: "I saw Cody twice this year and both times he pitched very well. I'm very taken with his size, the fact that he repeats his mechanics and throws strikes. It's just hard to ignore. He has major league weapons that will play up here in the big leagues and hopefully he'll move fast and help our ballclub in the very near future."
Rajsich on Akin: "We like Keegan. He's a fearless competitor. He's got a lightning-fast arm. He always seems to have a little extra in his arm when he needs it. He can really pitch with his fastball. His secondary stuff is developing and we think it will get better. We think he's a future middle of the rotation starter and the kid really knows how to compete He's a winner."
Sedlock on Akin: "Keegan's a great kid. We played all summer in the Cape. He has an electric left arm and one of the heaviest fastballs I've ever seen. I'm hoping we play quite a bit if not this year, next year. It's going to be great to have a familiar face. Get on this road to be big leagues with someone I know."
Sedlock on which pitcher is comparable to him: "I'd probably say Jake Arrieta. I know it's a little different, a former Oriole going to the Cubs, but just watching him pitch, the same sort of frame. We both like to take care of our bodies well. Two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. So sort of the same arsenal."
Illinois baseball coach Dan Hartleb issued a statement last night regarding Sedlock going to the Orioles:
"The Orioles are getting an outstanding young man in Cody Sedlock. Cody's work, on and off the field, have made him deserving a first-round pick. It has been impressive to watch his development on the mound and in the weight room over the past three years; he's a great competitor. I really respect him as a person and for what he did for our program."
Let's take one final look at all three pitchers as we head into Day 2 of the draft.
Sedlock, 20, went 10-6 with a 2.96 ERA (54 ER/164.1 IP) and 175 strikeouts in 47 games (19 starts) over three seasons with the University of Illinois. In 14 starts this season with the Illini, Sedlock went 5-3 with a 2.49 ERA (28 ER/101.1 IP) and 116 strikeouts. As a junior in 2016, he was named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, a First Team All-American by Baseball America, and a unanimous All-Big Ten First Team selection. Sedlock set the University of Illinois single-season strikeout record (116) in 2016, leading the Big Ten in strikeouts. Sedlock finished his career ranking second in University of Illinois history with a 1.86 ERA in Big Ten games. He was rated as the No. 26 overall draft prospect by MLB.com and No. 42 overall in Baseball America's Top 200 Prospects. As a student-athlete at Alleman High School in Rock Island, Ill., Sedlock earned three varsity letters in baseball and was a two-time All-Western Big Six selection in 2012-13.
Akin, 21, went 7-4 with a 1.82 ERA (22 ER/109.0 IP) and 133 strikeouts over 17 starts with Western Michigan University in 2016. His 133 strikeouts this season set the Western Michigan University single-season record. Akin was named a Third Team All-American by Baseball America after being voted First Team All-Mid-American Conference (MAC), named to the All-MAC Defensive Team, MAC Tournament Most Valuable Player, All-MAC Tournament Team and won the MAC West Player of the Week honor twice this season. As a student-athlete at Bullock Creek High School in Midland, Mich., Akin was named the Saginaw News/MLive.com Baseball Player of the Year as a senior in 2013.
Dietz, 20, went 12-1 with a 1.22 ERA (14 ER/103.0 IP) and 117 strikeouts in 13 starts with John A. Logan College in 2016. He was ranked as the No. 102 overall draft prospect by MLB.com and No. 96 in Baseball America's Top 200 Prospects. As a student-athlete at Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, Ill., Dietz was a 2014 Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American.