It was a big 2019 for Cody Sedlock. After starting the year in High-A Frederick, he earned a promotion to Double-A Bowie, made it to the Eastern League championship series, where he tossed a win against the Yankees affiliate, the Trenton Thunder, and closed out the year with a combined 2.86 ERA with 100 strikeouts and 46 walks in 95 innings.
A former Big Ten Conference Pitcher of the Year out of U. Illinois, Sedlock was the O’s first-round pick in 2016, the marquee name of a draft class that also included Austin Hays, Keegan Akin and right-handed pitcher Brenan Hanifee. After a short stint with Delmarva, Sedlock was assigned to the Keys in 2017, where he struggled, missing time with a strained flexor mass in his right elbow while posting a 5.90 ERA, a 1.72 WHIP, and just 69 strikeouts in 90 innings. Carolina League hitters hit .313 against Sedlock that 2017 season.
As it turned out, all was not well with the big righty. Shortly into the 2018 season, shoulder soreness and tingling in his fingers led to a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome. Sedlock was shut down, and though he managed to avoid surgery, he pitched only 27 innings that year.
This year, Sedlock came back fully healthy, and he has started to crawl back up the MLB Pipeline prospects list (from unranked in 2018, he’s the Orioles No. 17 guy now). After posting a 2.36 ERA and 1.049 WHIP in 13 games for Frederick, where hitters hit just .181 against him, Sedlock was promoted to Bowie. The results were mixed: Sedlock posted a 0.00 ERA with 15 strikeouts and eight walks over 11 IP in his first three outings (including a five-inning no-hitter on July 22); a 6.60 ERA with 11 SO and nine walks in his next 15 innings; and a 3.38 ERA in with eight SO and three walks over eight innings in his last two starts, plus a 1.80 mark in the postseason.
There’s concerns about Sedlock’s post-injuries stuff and command, although MLB Pipeline feels that since Sedlock has lost “his once-powerful stuff” he’s “really learned to pitch.” Although the heater now ranges from 90-93 mph, Sedlock’s “long arm action on the backside” gives the pitch some natural deception that enables him to miss bats and generate weak contact, and he’s developing the ability to command his two- and four-seamer to both sides of the plate. Sedlock recently added a changeup to the mix which MLB calls his “most improved pitch,” although his mid-80s slider is still considered the better of his two breaking balls.
To compete at a higher level, Sedlock needs to command his two fastballs and mix up speeds and eye levels. There is concern that while his delivery is deceptive, it’s also too busy to be repeatable. Back in late August, The Athletic’s Dan Connolly ran a piece where he reprinted a scout’s take on various Orioles prospects. Although that guy threw some cold water on Sedlock, he didn’t really say anything we didn’t already know:
Ahh, Sedlock. I finally saw him pitch. He reminds me of Jeff Hoffman (a former Blue Jays first-rounder), and that’s not a good thing. He has a really tough time timing himself (through his delivery). He has a lot of length on the back side and very funky body movement, which makes him very inconsistent. To me, he’s soft-looking on the mound. I would like to see him more confident and with a more aggressive presence. I see him as a bottom-end starter, who is probably gonna pitch in the big leagues because he was a first-round pick. But I think he is gonna be too soft, too many walks, too much picking and not enough challenging there.
The O’s will be keeping a close eye on Sedlock next season, with an eye especially to command. Perhaps the best news out of 2019 was that the Orioles didn’t end up having to play it too careful with Sedlock’s innings count: after coming into the season as a spot reliever, by the end he was being stretched out as a starter, and a reliable one, judging by his postseason with Bowie. While Sedlock is no longer the impact prospect he once looked to be, he is back on the prospect radar, and has a real chance to carve out a role as a back-end starter or long reliever. If that turns out to be Sedlock’s upside, I think a lot of Orioles fans would be happy with that.