Any player that has had to deal with injuries can develop an even greater appreciation for the sport of baseball when they can’t play it for a time. Single-A Frederick right-hander Cody Sedlock had his last two seasons impacted by injury.
So being healthy and pitching so well this year, he said, is all the more meaningful.
“Absolutely,” Sedlock said in an interview on MASN’s “O’s Xtra.” “When something is taken away from you, it makes it so much sweeter when you are able to compete and get back to a point where you know you can pitch to the fullest of your ability. I wouldn’t trade the struggles for anything because I definitely appreciate the game so much more.”
Taken with the Orioles’ first round pick - No. 27 overall - in 2016 out of the University of Illinois, Sedlock threw well in limited innings that summer for short-season Single-A Aberdeen. But in 2017, he had right elbow and forearm issues and went 4-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 90 innings for Frederick. Last year, he pitched just 37 innings, dealing early in the season with a shoulder strain and later with thoracic outlet syndrome.
An MRI showed no structural damage in his shoulder and he rehabbed to come back from thoracic outlet syndrome. He returned for a few games late last year, but his start to this season is showing he may finally be fully back and pitching like a top draft pick.
“It’s just been a lot of hard work and finally getting back to who I am as a pitcher,” he said. “To be healthy and go out there and approach every day as a new day. Take every game one start at a time. It’s been working so far and hopefully I can keep this going.”
In four starts for Frederick, he is 1-0 with a 2.49 ERA, allowing two, two, one and one run. Over 21 2/3 innings, Sedlock has given up 12 hits with nine walks, 20 strikeouts, an average against of .169 and a WHIP of 0.97. The OPS against him is .655. In his last start, he was touching 94 and 95 mph on the stadium radar gun.
“I think I’m getting back to a mindset where I’m going to throw my best weapon in any count, no matter what it is,” he said. “Been able to throw my off-speed in 2-1 counts, 3-1 counts and keep the hitters off-balance. And then come in hard with my fastball. You know, just a complete mix and to be able to throw all my off-speed pitches in any count that has been the biggest plus for me this season. Your fastball looks a lot harder when you can do that and hitters can’t time you up.”
Sedlock now throws his four-seam fastball much more than his two-seamer and his slider has been his most used secondary pitch. It was showing sharp break Sunday when he held Winston-Salem to one run over six innings on 80 pitches. His next start is set for Saturday.
So now the hope for Sedlock is that his injury-plagued last two seasons are behind him forever.
“I don’t have any concerns (about that anymore), but it’s one of those things that the moment where I tried to not get injured, I got injured. Once you take your foot off the gas a little bit, bad things start to happen,” he said. “So right now, I’m just pushing forward and trying to get the most out of my body and arm every day and it’s been working. I believe that is going to continue.”
As the rebuilding Orioles look to their farm, their fans have some pitching prospects to provide some hope for the future. They include the last three No. 1 picks in Sedlock, DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez. Add to that list Zac Lowther, Michael Baumann, Keegan Akin, Hunter Harvey and Blaine Knight, to name just a few more. And then you can note that Bruce Zimmermann and Alex Wells are pitching well at Double-A. Ofelky Peralta has an 0.89 ERA at Single-A Delmarva and Gary Fenter is at 2.04.
Sedlock wants to be part of a wave of pitchers on the farm that charge their way to Baltimore.
“Absolutely, we want that. The confidence in the process right now with the new front office and coaches has been unbelievable,” Sedlock said. “To know that any job is up for grabs and that there is always opportunity for advancement, that brings a good attitude to the clubhouse. If we perform, we have an opportunity to move up. It’s been great so far and I’m looking forward to seeing what we all can do in the future.”