FREDERICK, Md. - Cody Sedlock’s hiatus is about to end, and the right-hander couldn’t be happier.
Sedlock, who is 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in eight starts for Single-A Frederick this season, will start Thursday at Wilmington when the Keys open the second half of their schedule. It’ll be his ninth start of the season, but his first since May 25.
“I’ve been 100 percent for a little bit, for a while,” Sedlock said this afternoon before the Carolina League All-Star Classic at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium. “I’m pitching on Thursday, so it just timed out to where I could have pitched today, but ...”
Though Sedlock, 23, had experienced some right elbow discomfort, the Orioles made the decision to back off of him for a while to limit his innings and make it possible for him to pitch deeper into the season, Keys manager Ryan Minor explained. Last season, tingling in his fingers and a sore right shoulder were diagnosed as thoracic outlet syndrome, and Sedlock was limited to just 27 innings during 13 appearances (nine starts) for three affiliates.
“He didn’t throw that many innings last year, so if we’d have kept him going, he’d have hit his limit in July,” Minor said. “We’re trying to get a full season out of him. There was some rain delays, rainouts in there - stuff that messed up his schedule - but he worked through it. Once he starts on Thursday, he’ll work back up to where he needs to be.”
Pitchers in the minor leagues typically don’t increase their innings totals one season over another by more than 20 percent. In 2017, his second pro season after the Orioles made him the 27th overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft out of Illinois, Sedlock logged a career-high 101 innings.
Sedlock was one of nine Keys chosen to the North Division All-Star team for tonight’s game. He won’t pitch, but Minor said the right-hander would throw a bullpen session in preparation for Thursday’s start.
“When I got selected, I was hoping I’d be able to pitch, but it didn’t work out with the timing,” Sedlock said. “But that’s OK. It’s great to be around everyone and hoping the Keys put on a show today.”
Minor will manage the North All-Stars and pitching coach Justin Lord and hitting coach Bobby Rose will assist him. Joining Sedlock on the North roster are right-handers Mike Baumann, Steve Klimek, David Lebron and Luis Pérez; infielders Sean Miller and Willy Yahn; and outfielders Cole Billingsley and Zach Jarrett.
While he has been on hiatus, Sedlock has been working on his mental and physical conditioning. He likened it to the offseason, when preparation and workouts set the stage for a successful season.
“You don’t have to perform, but this is an opportunity to get better,” he said. “So my workouts, my running, the intensity of my throwing - the focus has been a lot more than it would be if I was pitching in the rotation.”
Minor has been impressed by the way Sedlock has approached his mandated downtime.
“He’s probably one of the hardest workers on the team on the pitching staff,” Minor said. “That’s just a credit to him, to try to bounce back, get out there and be ready, because he’s pitched so well this year. You hate to have to slow him down a little bit, but for him to be able to finish the year out and have a good second half, you have to do that.”
While Sedlock carries the cache of having been a first-round draft selection, Yahn may be one of the most surprising All-Star selections. The 23-year-old was a 25th-round pick out of UConn in the 2017 First-Year Player draft and has flourished this season at Frederick despite skipping Single-A Delmarva after playing last summer at short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
In 56 games this season, Yahn is slashing .296/.314/.426 with five homers and 35 RBIs. The power surge has been unexpected for a player who had not homered in 121 previous games at the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League or Aberdeen before this season.
“I’d like to think I got stronger in the offseason, but it’s probably just a better bat path and just tweaking a couple of pieces of my swing mechanically,” Yahn said. “Being able to backspin some balls and drive them more instead of getting a lot of line drive topspin that I was getting the last couple of years.”
Minor has taken note of how diligently Yahn prepares and thinks the bump in power is a result of his commitment to the craft of hitting - and is even more surprising given his one-level leap from Aberdeen.
“The way he plays every day and prepares himself, it’s no surprise to me he has this success that he’s had,” Minor said. “He’s one of those guys you want on your team. You want nine of those guys. ... To be able to have that kind of guy - he kind of goes out and produces energy every day - it’s a credit to him. He works hard, man.
“He’s gotten bigger and stronger since we first drafted him. ... He’s a free swinger, so if he hunts fastballs - we don’t have a whole lot of guys who do that a whole lot. He’s ready to hit in every count and so far this year he’s had success early in the count hitting fastballs.”