An 0-1 fastball with two men on to the Braves’ top prospect went a long way. Center fielder Cristian Pache belted the blast to put Atlanta ahead 3-0 on Akin and the Orioles in the second inning at Ed Smith Stadium.
One bad pitch marred his pitching line tonight. Over three innings, Akin gave up four hits and three runs with one walk and four strikeouts. He threw 51 pitches, 38 for strikes.
“I would say so (one pitch really hurt),” said Akin. “Just kind of felt uncomfortable out of the stretch. That’s kind of been my whole spring training memo I guess. Yeah, one bad pitch and obviously leadoff walks don’t help to start the inning. Have to eliminate those. Other than that, I felt pretty good.”
Akin, ranked as the Orioles’ No. 9 prospect by Baseball America and No. 11 by MLBPipeline.com, said his timing was off out of the stretch tonight. He didn’t need that earlier, though, as he sailed through a nine-pitch top of the first and fanned leadoff hitter Charlie Culberson swinging at a 95 mph fastball. But the second inning didn’t go nearly as well.
Third baseman Austin Riley led off with a walk and went to third on a single by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. After a strikeout, Pache blasted the three-run home run to left-center. For Pache, ranked as the No. 13 prospect in baseball by MLBPipeline.com, it was his second spring homer.
Akin pitched around a two-out double in the third. There was some loud contact against him this outing, but also some swing-and-miss stuff.
“I thought all four of my pitches were working,” he said. “I mixed some curveballs in there. Changeup, I threw a couple of bad ones out of the stretch due to my timing being off, but Broc (pitching coach Doug Brocail) and I talked about it when I came back to the dugout. That was kind of the focus of my warmup pitches going back out after the second - keep through the zone type of thing. That was my focus and I think it showed in the third inning.”
Akin elevated some fastballs and got some swings and misses.
“That’s usually my bread and butter,” Akin said. “Don’t want to tell any secrets, but that’s usually my bread and butter. If my fastball is good up in the zone, it helps me with other things and it is easier to pitch off of. It makes life easier for me.”
After throwing a high percentage of fastballs before 2019, Akin focused on his off-speed pitches last year at Triple-A Norfolk and expects that will be a focus again for him.
“Today I think I got quite a few swing and misses and some cheap outs on some off-speed pitches,” he said. “So for me, that’s good to see, coming off being a high-percentage fastball pitcher.”
Akin has a 7.45 ERA this spring. Over 9 2/3 innings, he has allowed 13 hits and eight runs with two walks and nine strikeouts.