If You Are a Fan of Pitching Prospects, The Frederick Keys Are For You in 2017

The day Baltimore Orioles' fans have long awaited for is finally here, it's Opening Day for the O's as they will host the Toronto Blue Jays at Camden Yards. The minor league season gets underway on Thursday and with the minor league rosters being finalized Sunday, the Frederick Keys are where you want to go if pitching prospects are your thing.

RHP Cody Sedlock
Photo: Patrick Cavey




Frederick, the High-A affiliate of the O's, is set to have a terrific starting rotation to begin the 2017 season, including four of Baby Birdland's Top 15 Orioles' prospects, and the fifth in the rotation is pretty darn good as well.

The five pitchers I am talking about that will open the year in the Keys' rotation are right-handers Cody Sedlock, Cristian Alvarado and Ofelky Peralta, and left-handers Keegan Akin and Brian Gonzalez.

Alvarado is the lone arm not in our Top 15 Prospects list, while Sedlock (2), Akin (5), Peralta (13) and Gonzalez (t-14) all crack the list. If you were curious, these four are all in MLB Pipeline's top 30 prospects list for the Orioles as well, with all four in the top 21 (Alvarado also misses out on this list).

Both Sedlock and Akin were drafted last June by the Orioles with Sedlock being the Orioles' top pick and Akin their second round pick. Both pitched for the Short-season A Aberdeen Ironbirds last year after being drafted, and both are skipping Low-A Delmarva and making the jump to High-A.

Why the rapid jump? That's for the Orioles' to answer, but both guys were college pitchers and both performed very well with the Ironbirds last season.

Sedlock pitched 27 innings over nine starts and went 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA and an impressive 1.07 WHIP. Sedlock held opponents to a .158 batting average and struck out 25. Thanks to his hard sinker, Sedlock recorded two ground outs for every "air" out he produced, and that's a good thing for a pitcher in the Orioles' organization. In six of his nine starts this season, Sedlock allowed just one hit.

Akin also made nine starts and tossed 26 total innings. He posted a tiny 1.04 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP while striking out 29 and walking just seven. He also held opponents to a .161 batting average and did not allow a single home run all season. Akin did not allow a single earned run over his final six starts. In those final six starts, Akin posted a 0.00 ERA while allowing just six hits, six walks and striking out 22 batters over 18 total innings pitched. Think about that, he allowed 12 base runners over 18 innings and struck out 22, that's pretty dominant. In addition, three of Akin's final six starts ended with him not allowing a single hit.

Peralta, Gonzalez and Alvarado are all making the traditional transition as all three pitched for the Shorebirds last season, and all three performed well with Gonzalez leading the way.

In 27 starts with the Shorebirds, Gonzalez went 10-8 with a 2.50 ERA and 147 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out 111 batters while walking 58. In addition, Gonzalez held opponents to a .247 batting average and posted a career best ground ball per "air" out ratio of 1.30 this season.

Peralta made 23 starts totaling 103 1/3 total innings pitched for the Shorebirds last season. Peralta posted a 8-5 record with a 4.01 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. He also held opponents to a .230 batting average while striking out 101 batters and walking 60.

Alvarado made 27 starts for Delmarva in 2016 and totaled 148 innings pitched. He went 10-9 with a 3.41 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP, while striking out 48 batters and walking just 29 for a strikeout per walk ratio of 5.10! Alvarado led all Orioles' minor leaguers with his 148 strikeouts, and also finished second in the SAL in that category.

I, for one, am very much looking forward to getting to Harry Grove Stadium as frequently as possible because every night a quality pitching prospect should be toeing the rubber to start the game for the Keys.

                                                                                                                                                        
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