For Keegan Akin, the Oriole’s No. 13 prospect, the wait is finally over. During Friday evenings brutal 15-3 loss to the Nationals, the 25-year-old from Michigan made his Major League debut, going three innings, striking out one and giving up three runs.
The young lefty started off very strong, retiring nine of the first 11 batters he faced, before struggling to begin his fourth inning of work. Let’s break down Akin’s performance.
Akin threw 48 pitches on the night, 29 of them for strikes. Akin threw one curveball, two changeups, 12 sliders and 33 four seam fastballs. Akin’s average fastball sat at 92 mph, while his changeup came in at 80.
Akin used his slider primarily against the three left-handed batters he faced, and his lone strikeout came using the slider. The youngster’s slider’s vertical movement of 45.4 inches of drop on the night would put him in Sonny Gray territory and within the top 40 of all MLB pitchers. The drop in Akin’s slider allowed him to record 40% of his outs via ground ball.
Akin led the International League in strikeouts in 2019 with 131 in 112.1 innings. Aiken also set a career-low in home run rate with a 0.80 HR/9 IP rate. Akin did, however, walk a career-high 12% of batters in 2019.
If Akin can keep his walk rate down and continue developing his slider, the Orioles could have themselves a solid bullpen piece or spot starter for the stretch run of the 2020 season. If everything comes together, Akin could become part of the rotation for years to come.