Keegan Akin made the jump from Aberdeen to Frederick with Cody Sedlock over last offseason, a well-deserved promotion after a nearly flawless debut in Aberdeen. This year, despite some struggles along the way, it became clear that he has a future worth tracking in this organization.
In 2016, Akin collected a 1.04 ERA and 0.85 WHIP in 26 innings with the Ironbirds. He struck out 29 in 26 innings and almost overshadowed Sedlock’s impressive debut in the two’s rookie year. He entered this age 22 season with quite a bit of momentum, and despite the fact that he posted a not-so-inspiring 4.14 ERA over the year with the Keys, there seems to be aspects of his game that can be built on as his development continues.
Akin battled some injuries throughout the year and made his final outing on August 4, but he posted a very solid final line by the end of the year: 100 innings, 89 hits, 46 walks, 111 strikeouts, .240 average against.
By all means, that’s not a line to ignore. Simply on paper, it’s clear Akin had his way a lot of the time. When you break down the month-by-month numbers, a clear concept stands out — there were pockets when runs crossed at a high rate without much explanation:
April: 20 innings, 25 hits, 11 walks, 30 strikeouts, 5.85 ERA
May: 19.1 innings, 21 hits, 11 walks, 15 strikeouts, 6.05 ERA
June: 30 innings, 13 hits, 11 walks, 31 strikeouts, 0.90 ERA
July: 26.2 innings, 26 hits, 11 walks, 33 strikeouts, 5.74 ERA
August: 4 innings, 4 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, (INJURED)
For clarity there, it’s worth noting that the injury doesn’t appear to be a serious one (he’s heading to the Arizona Fall League).
Looking at those numbers though, it’s obvious Akin didn’t get consistently hit against heavily. There were issues, and the month of June did quite a bit to lower that final ERA, but this wasn’t a disastrous season in terms of hits against. A few too many walks, but nothing that immediately signals concern.
Moving forward, the focus will be potentially improved command and consistency — basically the same story as every young pitching prospect in the game today.
What’s particularly encouraging when looking ahead at Akins future is the natural traits he possesses that you can’t teach. That’s detailed well in his MLB Pipeline profile:
One of the hardest-throwing lefty starters in his class, Akin's fastball sits at 91-94 mph and reaches 96 with late life, and he maintains that velocity deep into games. His above-average slider in the low 80s represents his best secondary offering and makes him particularly effective against lefty hitters. His changeup, though less advanced, projects to be average. Akin's easy and repeatable delivery, as well as his clean arm action, allows him to paint both sides of the plate his heater, in turn helping him to set up his other pitches.
That same profile (which was likely constructed with at least some insider information) says that the Orioles think his “makeup and poise” could be traits that help him rise up the system rather quickly. If we were to simply create a perfect prospect profile out of thin air, it’s safe to say that a hard-throwing southpaw with good makeup is a good start.
If Akin can continue to build his comfort, solidify command and perhaps add a mile or two more to his fastball, he’ll continue to be a name to track at the top of the future prospect conversation.