By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens
The Baltimore Orioles had 41 selections in last year’s MLB draft and used 27 of them on pitchers. Orioles’ fans have been demanding more stability and production from the starting rotation for years, and last year the Orioles decided to address this concern through the draft process. Cody Sedlock and Keegan Akin (the 1st and 2nd round picks, respectively) pitched very well for the Aberdeen Ironbirds, a Low-A affiliate, however, Matthias Dietz, who was selected in the 2nd round out of John A. Logan CC, struggled in making the transition from junior college ball to the professional ranks.
Photo: Patrick Cavey
Dietz started seven games for Aberdeen, compiling an 0-3 record, 4.82 ERA/.308 OBA/1.71 WHIP, 22 hits allowed, eight strikeouts, and 10 walks in 18.2 innings. Despite the high number of walks and hits allowed, Dietz did not give up a single home run.
Before reporting to Aberdeen, Dietz started 13 games for John Logan CC, pitching 103 innings in route to a 12-1 record. He was considered by many scouts to be the top ranked junior college pitcher in the 2016 draft class after posting a 1.22 ERA and averaging 10.22 strikeouts/9 innings. This could explain some of the command issues and struggles Dietz faced last season. Becoming a regular starter in the professional ranks and adjusting to an entirely new coaching staff, all while continuing to develop sub-par secondary pitches against much tougher competition is a lot to ask of a 20-year old kid. A full offseason will hopefully allow Dietz to give Orioles fans and coaches a better glimpse of why the Orioles made Dietz a 2nd round draft pick.
I was able to watch Matthias pitch in his final appearance for Aberdeen last season, a September 2nd matchup against the Brooklyn Cyclones. Dietz went 3.0 innings, gave up four hits, two runs (one earned), and struck out one while walking none. All of the damage came in the 1st inning, after which Dietz was able to settle down, going six up and six down over the next two innings. When Dietz was hitting his target he was able to induce routine ground balls and pop-ups. Hitting the target was the main problem, often missing low or leaving the pitch right over the plate where Cyclones’ hitters feasted on Dietz’s fastball.
One thing I appreciated as a fan, was the speed of play when Dietz was on the hill, but as a young pitcher still trying to catch up to the speed of minor league baseball, Matthias needs to slow the game down. His ability to collect himself and regroup after making a costly mistake greatly impressed me and lead me to believe he will get a shot down the road to show what he can do in the Orioles’ starting rotation.
The 6’5”, 220 pound pitcher averages between 92-96 mph with his fastball and can reach as high as 98 mph. However, scouts have mixed reviews about his major league projection. Unless Dietz can continue to develop his slider and changeup, he could end up as a bullpen option for the Orioles down the road.
Baltimore Sun reporter Eduardo A. Encina has already reported that the Orioles plan to send Keegan Akin and Cody Sedlock to High-A Frederick to begin the 2017 season, completely bypassing Delmarva. Dietz however, remains up in the air. Because he is only 21 and the Orioles seem to want to give him a shot at being a major league starter, I believe Matthias Dietz will start the year in Aberdeen and with a few successful starts, could end 2017 in Delmarva.