Scouting Report on Baltimore Orioles' 2016 Second Rounder, LHP Keegan Akin

By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens

Last year’s second round pick of the Baltimore Orioles, Keegan Akin, may have found his stride in the Carolina League with the Frederick Keys. On Tuesday night, against the Salem Red Sox, Akin earned his second quality start of the season, going six innings, giving up six hits and one earned run, while walking three batters and striking out five. The win gave Akin a 3-3 record on the year as he has lowered his ERA to 4.71.I was able to sit and watch Akin for the first time on Tuesday and walked away impressed with the second-year lefty in a few different areas, most notably, his durability and pitch selection.

Photo: Patrick Cavey

Akin’s 6’0”, 225 pound frame holds up very well throughout his start. His fastball velocity consistently stayed between 89-91 mph all night long as Akin was able to stay low in the zone and record 7 of his outs on ground balls (compared to four fly ball outs). The late movement on his fastball proved difficult to hit, especially when it was up in the zone. Red Sox hitters often found themselves late on the pitch.

Akin’s slider may have been the most impressive of his three pitches (he also throws a fastball and changeup). His ability to completely freeze left-handed hitters and make righties go fishing low and outside was impressive. Breaking across multiple planes, Akin used his slider as an effective strike out pitch. All five strikeouts against the Red Sox were swinging strikes, the majority of which were with the slider or high fastballs that hitters could not catch up with after missing the slider on the previous pitch.

After a very quick fifth inning, Akin started the sixth by giving up a two-strike double and hitting the next batter on a 2-2 pitch. I was expecting the wheels to start coming off, but Akin went right back to work, attacking hitters with low-90s fastballs down in the zone to record 3 quick outs on 11 pitches, 9 of which were strikes.

Keegan projects as a back of the rotation starter as long as he can improve his changeup (missed often Tuesday night and left a few over the heart of the plate). I have also seen scouts project Akin as a bullpen option for the Orioles, mostly due to his small, stocky stature and lack of “projectability” that taller pitchers have. However, when you watch Keegan Akin, you immediately notice his effortless, quick delivery style that leaves little time for batters to pick up the ball.  

Glenn P. Greenberg conducted an amazing study on pitcher’s height and their effectiveness in the Fall 2010 Baseball Research Journal, titled “Does a Pitcher’s Height Matter?” In his research, Greenberg found no correlation between the height of a pitcher and their effectiveness, durability, resistance to injury, or projectability to the major league level. The reason for the lack of smaller pitchers in baseball, according to Greenberg, is that they are given fewer opportunities because they are usually immediately downgraded in the minds of scouts and coaches; to make it in the big leagues, you need quality mechanics and pitches. Keegan Akin has both.

Despite the moans and groans that emerged after Akin struggled early on this season, he looks sharper and confident now. If he can continue to pitch as he has his last few starts, and the big-league Orioles keep pitching as they have this season, do not be shocked to see the new Orioles’ strategy of fast-tracking prospects push Akin to the majors by the end of next season.


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