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Know Your Orioles 40-man: Cody Sedlock

The top Orioles pick in the 2016 draft finally made it to MLB this year. He’ll be hoping one game isn’t all he gets.

Orioles pitcher Cody Sedlock photographed during spring training 2022
Neither of the photo services we have access to filed a photo of Cody Sedlock making his MLB debut. Sorry, Cody.
Photo by Phelan Ebenhack/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Over the offseason, Camden Chat published an article about each member of the Orioles 40-man roster. During the 2022 season, we will update on new arrivals after they make it to the roster.

How he arrived: Drafted by Orioles in first round (27th overall) in 2016 draft; contract selected 5/28/22

Who left: Jahmai Jones designated for assignment 5/28/22

NOTE: The Orioles designated Sedlock for assignment on 6/7/22. He is no longer on the team’s 40-man roster.

One of the regular rituals of the Orioles bullpen for the past couple of seasons has been pitchers who have toiled in the minor leagues long beyond when they had any kind of prospect stock being called up and finally getting to make a major league debut. From instability comes opportunity. Four different non-prospect or barely-prospect relievers have already debuted in 52 games for the 2022 Orioles. The most recent of these is 26-year-old right-hander Cody Sedlock.

In contrast to some of the other pitchers who’ve shuffled through, Sedlock is not a journeyman minor league guy. The Orioles are the only professional organization he’s known. They drafted him out of the University of Illinois with their top pick in the 2016 draft, a pick they received due to the departure of Wei-Yin Chen as a free agent. That #27 overall pick was the O’s top choice even after a pedestrian 81-81 record in 2015 because they made the poor choice to forfeit their initial top draft choice (13th overall) to sign Yovani Gallardo.

After that late first round selection and a pro debut at then-short season Aberdeen that was solid enough, Sedlock had some modest initial prospect stock. The pre-2017 season Orioles prospect list posted by FanGraphs had Sedlock as the #2 guy, ahead of other current Orioles including Keegan Akin, Austin Hays, Trey Mancini, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins, and Anthony Santander. At the time, Sedlock’s ETA in the majors was 2019. Yeah, about that...

Poor performance and poor injury luck derailed that modest heat for Sedlock. At then-High-A Frederick in 2017, he finished the season with a 5.90 ERA across 20 starts, missing time due to a flexor mass strain. That sometimes turns into needing Tommy John surgery, although Sedlock did not. His 2018 campaign was also truncated when he was battling thoracic outlet syndrome, which also sometimes requires surgery, though Sedlock did not.

I figured Sedlock was probably not going to have a rebound in him after Dan Duquette, who drafted him, left as Orioles GM and Mike Elias took over. Elias had no investment in Duquette’s guys.

Still, finally healthy, Sedlock was able to cobble together a decent 2019 season with his first exposure to Elias’s development program. He was old for both High-A and Double-A at age 24 then, but his 2.84 ERA and 1.200 WHIP were at least enough to be kind of interesting. (He did walk too many dudes, 46 in 95 innings.)

Like every other fringe prospect, 2020 was a lost year where no one got any sense of if he had improved or if he was still on the fringe at best.

Armed with the present day knowledge that Sedlock arrived and debuted in MLB in 2022, you might assume that he posted good numbers over either of the last two seasons. Not really! Sedlock’s 2021 season saw a combined 4.55 ERA across 95 innings between Double-A and Triple-A, with a combined 1.473 WHIP. He had a higher ERA in his eight Norfolk games this year but comparable WHIP (5.83 ERA, 1.466 WHIP).

One thing working in Sedlock’s favor in spite of that unimpressive ERA is surely that he has struck out 35 batters in 29.1 innings. You never know how much bad minor league defense might affect a minor league pitcher’s ERA. Strikeouts are always good, especially when they don’t come with an extremely high walk rate. Sedlock has been doing better this year than earlier in his career. His BB/9 of about 3.7 is not great, but it’s not (insert your least favorite recent Orioles relief pitcher) bad either. That probably helped him get the call-up too.

Mostly though, I think Sedlock’s good fortune is that he was conveniently rested while the Orioles were in the midst of a five-game series where they knew they were going to have to have insurance on hand to cover a short start so the high-leverage relievers didn’t have to get chewed up in a blowout. That is what helped him become, as tracked by Baseball Reference, the 22,679th player in major league history.

As far as the debut itself, I don’t feel the need here to dwell on the results. Three innings went fine, then trying to go beyond three innings went much less fine. Sedlock will surely be hoping he gets another chance to show that he deserves to have better than a 15.00 ERA. Two of the five runs charged to Sedlock scored after he left the game, but it’s not like a 9.00 ERA would look or feel much better.

Now that he’s on the 40-man roster, maybe Sedlock will get that second chance and beyond. The Orioles rotation remains unstable, and until that settles down more, Sedlock is among the group of pitchers - along with Mike Baumann, Zac Lowther, Denyi Reyes, and Beau Sulser - who might be called upon to reinforce the big league bullpen when the main important thing to bring is the ability to pitch multiple innings in a blowout.

Still to come: That’s all, for now