The Baltimore Orioles starting rotation won’t be fun to watch, but there will be a few bright spots.
Many of the top pitching prospects in the Orioles’ system are years away from finding themselves on the major league roster (DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez are both younger than 21), but LHP Keegan Akin, the sixth-ranked prospect in the system according to MLB Pipeline, is entering his fourth season in the organization and coming off a stellar season in Double-A.
Co-recipient of the Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award, Akin went 14-7 with the Bowie Baysox, posting a 3.27 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 25 starts. He led the Eastern League in strikeouts, wins, and batting average against, winning Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honors.
A former second-round pick of the O’s, Akin uses a mid-90s fastball along with a changeup and slider to produce a decent amount of strikeouts (24.8% K-rate in 2018). He’s a bit of a sleeper in the organization who gets knocked for his frame, high walk-rate, and possible role as a relief pitcher in the major leagues. However, Akin went at least six innings while giving up two or fewer earned runs in three-straight games, three different times last season.
Many of those fears are eliminated when you are at the ballpark and watching him live. Akin will begin the season with the Norfolk Tides, but that’s not where he finishes 2018.
That leads us to our next bold prediction- Keegan Akin makes his major league debut and finishes among the team leaders in WAR. He gets his first start before the trade deadline but assumes a full-time role in the rotation when at least two starters are shipped at the deadline.