2019 Level: AAA
Pitches (current/future value)
Most Likely Future Role: #5 Starter or Set-up relief
Ceiling: #4 Starter
What we know: Since the Orioles drafted Akin in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft he hasn’t had any trouble missing bats. He’s struck out more than a batter per inning at every stop. All three of his pitches have their moments, but until 2019 it was his fastball that did the heavy lifting. The pitch has above average spin and gets a lot of ride as well as some armside run. At it’s best, it sits 93-94mph t96. The problem is that his velocity tends to come and go throughout the season. Some starts it was more 89-91 t92 and that just doesn’t play as well. The O’s had Akin focus on throwing his offspeed pitches in uncomfortable counts this season. He struggles a bit to land the slider for strikes, it’s better as a chase pitch. The quality of the pitch varies depending on it’s velocity, it can be fringy when he doesn’t have good velocity and above average at it’s best. His changeup made strides in 2019, as the forced increased usage lead to more consistent feel for what has always been a swing and miss pitch against RHB. He has a simple, lowish effort delivery, but has never really shown the command you’d expect from such a delivery.
What we don’t know: Akin hasn’t always maintained the best body composition or fitness throughout the grind of a season. Will he be able to condition himself to maintain velocity throughout the course of a season? Now that he’s throwing his offspeed pitches more frequently, will his feel for the pitches continue to improve?
What we think: Akin’s future will be determined by his fastball velocity. His performance is pretty directly tied to what quality of fastball he shows up with. If he’s in the high 80s- low 90s then he’ll need to move to the pen so the pitch will play up. If he’s in the low 90s, touching the mid 90s, he should carve out a role as a backend starting pitcher. He will be added to the 40 man roster in a few weeks to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He’s pretty much MLB ready and should get a legit shot to make the rotation out of spring training in 2020.
Another Take: Akin will flash you four major league average pitches, but consistency of those pitches remains his main issue. There are times he can look like the best pitcher in the system not named Rodriguez or Hall, but other times he’s at 100 pitches in the 5th inning. If his command improves he could be a back of the rotation starter, but he could be a real weapon as a left-handed reliever. I believe he would get an uptick of velocity in the pen and he has the mentality that might work better in the pen. Akin will always need to watch his weight as well, and not having four days off between starts might help keep him in shape throughout the year a bit better. (Tony Pente)