SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles lefty pitching prospect Keegan Akin made his second spring start and third appearance this afternoon. He touched 94 mph with his fastball and threw some nice changeups as he went 2 2/3 innings allowing one run against the Twins at Ed Smith Stadium.
Were he at minor league camp at Twin Lakes Park, Akin might be, as they say, getting his work in. But here at big league camp for the first time, after being added to the 40-man in November, he is trying to earn a rotation spot.
“I would say this is a little different,” he said. “It’s my first (big league) camp, taking it pretty serious and I want to win a spot. It’s obviously a little more competitive right now. Down there I would be just getting built up with my pitch count, things like that. I’d much rather be in this atmosphere playing games rather than throwing sim games or bullpens on a back field. It’s been fun and exciting so far.”
Akin gave up a long homer with two outs in the top of the first to former Oriole Nelson Cruz, as he allowed three hits and the one run today. He walked one and fanned two, throwing 52 pitches, 34 for strikes.
“Cruz is going to hit his home runs, that is what he’s done his whole career,” said Akin. “It was supposed to be a changeup and I think it turned into a cutter. Still got some stuff to work on.
“It was good (the outing overall). Couple of hits, a run. Like I said after that last outing, for me it’s about getting the feel of the pitches and to be able to throw strikes. Just being comfortable on the mound at this point of the year.”
He got some great defense behind him.
Center fielder Cedric Mullins dove into the left-center gap to make a sensational play and rob Twins first baseman Miguel Sanó right after Cruz’s homer. First baseman Chris Davis made a nice play near the foul line to end the top of the second as Akin stranded two runners.
Akin got the first two outs against the top of the order in the third. Then Cruz flared a single into right-center and the pitch count ended his day at eight outs.
In addition to showing some life on his fastball, he mixed in breaking balls and changeups, going along he said with what veteran catcher Bryan Holaday called for.
“Good, but not where I want them to be yet,” Akin said when asked about his secondary pitches in today’s outing. “Which is usually how it is with spring training. The offspeed I always struggle trying to hone those in and get those dialed in. For me going forward, it’s just pitch off my fastball and mix those in. Work on them in bullpens and games. For me it’s all about being comfortable out there. Ending spring training healthy and feeling good.”