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Orioles prospect Cody Sedlock talks return from injury, adjusting to pro ball

This week, we talked with 2016 first-round pick Cody Sedlock about his mid-season injury and his mindset as he attempts to work his way up the Orioles minor-league system.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Sedlock certainly hasn’t had the ideal first full season in the Orioles system, but there’s still reason to believe the 2016 first-round draft pick is on his way to bigger and better things. Even hindered with an arm injury that caused him to miss some crucial development time this season, he appears primed to take a major step forward throughout the end of 2017 and into the offseason.

Sedlock made his starts over the course of the first three months of the year, but the numbers didn’t add up to the expectations for the former Illinois standout, especially after the stats he posted at Aberdeen in 27 innings last year. Now coming off of a stint on the disabled list and settling back into a groove, Sedlock says he’s finally feeling the way he wants to, perhaps an indicator that the injury was a bothersome one before the time off.

“My arm feels great, back up to 100 percent,” he said. “It’s a really sweet feeling just knowing how I felt before and now being 100 percent feels a whole lot better. I was really working hard every day to get to full strength again and I think I’m there.”

He continued: “It feels great just because when I was stepping on that mound before, I didn’t feel like myself. To have the ball come out of my hand with more confidence and being at 100 percent, I can actually work on becoming the pitcher I know I can be. I wish I felt like this before obviously, but I’m excited to go out there, work on everything and become a better pitcher.”

When scanning over his season stats — particularly the 6.05 ERA and 104 hits in 80.1 innings — they might make a bit more sense when taking the right-hander’s comments into consideration. Of course the leap from the NY-Penn League to Frederick might’ve had something to do with it, but it sure sounds like Sedlock wasn’t himself leading up to July 1st when he was placed on the disabled list.

Another factor could simply be adjusting to the life in Minor League Baseball. It’s a world in which things are shifted quite a bit even from major collegiate programs — and when we see numbers dip in a prospect’s first season, we often fail to take this into consideration.

The schedule off the mound needs to be fine-tuned as well, something Sedlock mentioned as a focal point of his work on adjusting to the full season at Frederick. He says finding the perfect schedule in between starts that included a new workout routine and bullpen work was one of the most difficult parts of the transition.

“It’s a lot different,” he described. “I only started one year in college, and that was on a weekly basis. Just figuring out how my body responds to a five-day rotation and keeping up with all of the conditioning and strength training, it’s different in college. I feel like I’ve been able to work on that a lot this year and I’ve gotten to a place where I’m comfortable going out there every fifth day.”

On the year, Sedlock has posted a 1.69 WHIP and has allowed a .308 average against to opposing hitters. It’s easy to sit back from afar and cast doubts about his progression, and in a game where the numbers do tend to sum up performances rather well, it’s usually fair to make assumptions. But in Sedlock’s case, it’s important to be cautious.

One point the Orioles prospect talked about fairly extensively was his mindset in terms of handling the minor-league grind. At just 22 years old, Sedlock, and the rest of his fellow first full-season prospects, have been tossed into a whole new world. Some handle it well, others fail to climb the mountain of time needed to be successful.

Only Sedlock knows how he’s dealing with the pressures internally, but by his comments, it appears he’s taking the day-to-day details in stride.

“It’s just staying positive and never losing sight of what’s in the future,” he said when asked what the key was to handling the grind. “And also, just going back to playing the game and having fun. A lot of minor-league guys get caught up in all of the bus rides and the bad sleep schedules and all of that, and they kind of lose sight that we’re playing a game that we have loved playing since we’ve been five years old. It’s just the biggest thing for everyone, to not lose track and no matter what happens, knowing that we’re getting paid to pay a child’s game and to take advantage of it every single day.”

Moving forward, Sedlock’s progression is likely best judged by those on site at Frederick. With the injury, it’s rather difficult to focus on overall numbers, which don’t tell the entire story in the first place. With this case especially, the evaluation of status as a prospect isn’t an exact science for those outside of the organization.

The good news is that everything is seemingly on track and moving in the right direction. And according to Sedlock, there looks to be light at the end of the 2017 tunnel.

“The biggest focus for me right now is working on my fastball command, getting that back and just getting my delivery repeatable,” he said. “And once that comes, I think everything else will build on top of that.”