Across MLB, dozens and dozens of players have made their big league debut in the two short weeks since the 2020 season began. The Orioles have, until now, not been a part of this trend, keeping their minor league players at the alternate training site. That’s changed on Saturday afternoon as the team chose to recall lefty Keegan Akin from Bowie.
Akin, the Orioles second round pick in the 2016 draft, has the advantage over some of the other O’s pitching prospects that he has pitched a full season at the Triple-A level in 2019. He’s a little older than some of the others, having already turned 25. In prospect years, that’s starting to get pretty old for a guy to make his MLB debut. I think for a player like that it’s about time to see whether he’s got big league success in his future or not.
That 2019 campaign did not generate results for Akin that are as exciting for fans to see in stat lines as they could be. He pitched in 25 games for the Tides, posting a 4.73 ERA with an unsightly 1.513 WHIP. That’s because Akin walked 61 batters in 112.1 innings, which is a BB/9 of 4.9. It’s not great.
There was some good news. Even with the juiced MLB balls being used at the Triple-A level, Akin only allowed 10 home runs on the season. He also struck out 131 batters. That’s a 10.5 K/9, greater than what he had done at any level in professional baseball up to that point. No success is guaranteed, but there is some potential for positive results for the lefty.
We’ll have to see if Mike Elias or Brandon Hyde has any specifics to offer about Akin’s role, or the duration of his stay, in media availability before Saturday’s game against the Nationals. If they want to ease him in with some long relief, he could be here to back up Saturday starter Thomas Eshelman.
If Akin is not needed today, he could be around as an option in case John Means doesn’t return from the bereavement list to start Sunday’s game. As of this writing, no Sunday starter is listed.
Akin is the #13 prospect in the Orioles system in the just-updated MLB Pipeline ranking. That ranks below other high-minors pitching prospects like Michael Baumann, Dean Kremer, and Zac Lowther. Hopefully Akin is not the only one of these guys we see in 2020.
To make room for Akin on the active roster, the Orioles optioned outfielder Cedric Mullins to the alternate training site. Mullins had one hit in his first 13 at-bats.