2018 Level: AA
Current/Future/Ceiling Grades: 40/50/50
What we know:
Akin made significant strides in 2018. He came into the season in better shape and saw improvements in stuff across the board. The consistency of his mechanics improved along with the consistency of his results. He dropped his 2S fastball and now just throws a 4S fastball, which has an extra couple of ticks of velocity and misses bats when used up in the zone. His fastball velocity was generally in the 91-93mph range, but he hit as high as 96 late in the season. The pitch is relatively straight, so it can catch barrels when it is left middle-middle or middle-down. He complements it with a slider (81-83mph) with 2-plane break. The pitch misses bats and he uses it successfully as a backfoot pitch against RHB. It is a little slurvy and can be easy to lay off if it’s not commanded well. His changeup might be his best pitch, even though it doesn’t have great movement. It has great velocity separation from his fastball (10+ mph slower) and he throws it with deceptive arm speed. Akin used these three quality pitches to run a 3.27 ERA over 137.2 inning in AA racking up 142 strikeouts.
What we don’t know:
Akin is a strike thrower with a simple delivery but runs into problems with pitch sequencing and command. He will on occasion leave an 0-2 pitch middle-middle or nibble too much and lose a guy for a four-pitch walk. Will the pitchability improve? That will likely determine whether he’s a #4/5 starter or if he’s a 7th inning type in the bullpen. Also, will the increase in velocity stick? If he’s a mid-90s guy going forward, that bumps his reasonable ceiling to mid-rotation. Will his pitches miss major league bats? All three induce swinging strikes in AA, but he lacks a true plus out pitch and gets by more on strength of the arsenal.
What we think:
Akin has the delivery to command the ball well, but he’s just not there yet. We think with a year in Norfolk to tighten up that part of his game and improve his situational pitching, he’ll slot in the back of the Orioles rotation. He’s a flyball pitcher and will struggle with the long ball at times but will miss enough bats and induce enough pop-ups to stick in the rotation. If the command doesn’t improve or his secondaries aren’t enough to miss MLB bats, he’ll still provide value as a 7th/8th inning reliever who can get both LH and RH batters out. In a relief role, his fastball would be the star and should play well letting it fly in short outings.
Written By: Luke Siler