Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Akin looks to build on career year in Minors

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

ST. PETERSBURG -- As the Orioles look to the future, beginning a rebuild this season that is expected to take several years, the Major League present has often been tough to stomach. The trades of seven key players, a swap that netted them 15 players and reshaped their Top 30 Prospects list, have given them hope.

But one of the biggest bright spots of the Minor League season wasn't a new face. It was Double-A Bowie's Keegan Akin. Akin -- the O's second-round Draft pick in 2016 -- was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year last week, the first Orioles pitcher in a decade (Brad Bergesen, '08) to take home the honors.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- As the Orioles look to the future, beginning a rebuild this season that is expected to take several years, the Major League present has often been tough to stomach. The trades of seven key players, a swap that netted them 15 players and reshaped their Top 30 Prospects list, have given them hope.

But one of the biggest bright spots of the Minor League season wasn't a new face. It was Double-A Bowie's Keegan Akin. Akin -- the O's second-round Draft pick in 2016 -- was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year last week, the first Orioles pitcher in a decade (Brad Bergesen, '08) to take home the honors.

View Full Game Coverage

"It brought in some good competition, pitching and position players," Akin said of the rush of new midseason arrivals. "My old coach used to say, 'Competition breeds excellence,' and if you get a lot of competition in an organization, you are bound to have some pretty good farmhands."

Akin certainly rose to the occasion, posting a 14-7 record with 142 strikeouts and a 3.27 ERA in 25 starts in his first season at Double-A. Ranked as the Orioles' No. 12 prospect, Akin gave up no more than three earned runs in 20 of those starts, 10 of which he allowed one earned run or zero earned runs.

The key?

"Attacking hitters with my fastball," said Akin, who held opposing hitters to a .225 batting average, with 9.28 strikeouts per nine innings. "It's pretty hard to hit a well-located fastball. So if you can establish that and be aggressive and keep hitters on their heels, you can have some success.

"I had a better feeling coming out of spring this year than last year. This year went better than last Spring Training, I came into it in better shape and overall just felt better. When you build up that little bit of confidence, it's easier to start strong and stay positive."

The 23-year-old, listed at 6-foot and 225 pounds, was also named an Eastern League All-Star and was Pitcher of the Week from Aug. 13-19. The Michigan native, who was drafted out of Western Michigan University, is spending a few days at home before heading to Sarasota, Fla., for instructional league this fall.

Although Akin is done pitching for the season, he'll go through strength and conditioning camp and continue to try to hone his craft and get on the big league radar.

"I think there's a lot of opportunities for everybody right now," Akin said. "If you are in the farm system, everyone has an opportunity, and I think everyone understands that. It makes it a little more -- I don't want to say fun, because it's always fun -- but you definitely can see those opportunities."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles