In 2016, the Orioles selected a pitcher in the second round out of Western Michigan. That man was left-hander Keegan Akin.
Having a strong fastball, some work still needed to be done to develop him just a bit further. After going 27-23 and striking out 413 in 377 innings in the minors, the Orioles were willing to give Akin a late-season audition in 2020.
Akin would go 1-2 in eight games, six starts, and offer a glimpse of hope for the young lefty and his future. This would also give him a shot at pitching in the Orioles’ starting rotation the following season.
With expectations high and hopeful, Akin would pitch in a career-high 24 games, making 17 starts. Unfortunately for the Orioles, those results ended poorly.
Akin would end up going 2-10 with a 6.63 ERA and allow opponents to bat a surprising .290 against him. His fastball, though hard, would show little movement and allowed for 17 home runs to be hit against him.
His WHIP was an astounding 1.580, leaving to question: Where was the glimpse of the pitcher seen before?
Eventually moving to the bullpen, the young lefty never found his form and left many to wonder if he even had a place in baseball anymore.
The Orioles brass still had hopes of making something of Akin. He had the ability and the tools, and the Orioles have been burned before on giving up on young arms too soon.
This past spring, the Orioles made the decision to utilize the strength of Akin and his tools to not only benefit his growth but contribute to where the Orioles had one of their biggest holes – the bullpen.
So far, the results seem to have worked. Akin has appeared in two games, both in extended relief, and has yet to allow a run. He has poise, control and is utilizing his tools to become a reliable option, something desperately needed due to the shortened spring training.
In 5.2 innings, he has allowed only two hits, struck out four and has left opponents batting just .105 against him. His WHIP sits at 0.350, and he has been one of the surprising options to come out of a shockingly strong bullpen this early in the season.
Of course, this is just a small sample size, but it seems that Brandon Hyde has found a niche for another young player to be successful in for his team.
As the season matches on, those early numbers might change. But for now, Akin looks more like the pitcher towards the end of 2020, than the shell we saw in 2021.
Here’s to Akin’s new success and another Baby Bird making his way to the top of the nest.
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