The 2019 season is all about the future for the Baltimore Orioles, and these five prospects will get a chance to show their stuff.
From 2012 to 2018, the Baltimore Orioles began every season with their eyes on a playoff spot. The front office and ownership pushed payroll to record levels every year in an effort to get over the hump and bring a World Series home for the first time since 1983. Unfortunately, everything came crashing down last season, and Manny Machado’s final year in Baltimore ended in one of the ugliest seasons in MLB history. The Orioles lost 115 games and are starting completely from scratch with a new front office, manager and roster, for the most part.
Despite their frisky start to 2019, the Orioles are destined to lose at least 90 games, and most likely 100. Their roster is very thin on MLB talent, and the rotation might be even worse. This year is all about setting up for the future while new general manager Mike Elias begins putting his stamp on a downtrodden farm system.
The Orioles made big strides to rebuild their prospect pool at the trade deadline last year, dealing away Machado, Jonathan Schoop, Kevin Gausman, Zack Britton and Brad Brach. Baltimore’s farm system is still in the lower tier of the league, but trending upwards. With a big-league roster that will function as a revolving door at times this season, plenty of prospects will make their way up for stints in the big leagues. These five are the most likely to arrive and have an immediate impact as the Orioles work their way back from rock bottom.
5. Keegan Akin
Twenty-three-year-old left-hander Keegan Akin is hardly the sexiest of names for Orioles fans looking down on the farm for future aces, but he is the team’s most MLB-ready starting pitcher. The second-round pick out of Western Michigan in 2016 really made a jump up the prospect rankings after posting a 14-7 record with a 3.27 ERA across 25 starts for Double-A Bowie. Akin also struck out over a batter an inning.
The rotation the Orioles kick off the 2019 season with leaves much to be desired, but it will be a revolving door with plenty of names taking their turn. Akin will definitely be up in the big leagues before the middle of the year, and he does have what it takes to give the O’s some quality innings. The lefty had a much stronger campaign in 2018 after making adjustments to his delivery and setup on the mound. Some more time with the Orioles new analytics department could yield even more improvements.
Akin won’t be the future ace of the contending Orioles, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t worth keeping an eye on right now. He has a good feel for his fastball, slider and changeup and mixes speeds well to generate weak contact. While many O’s fans are hoping to see former top pick Hunter Harvey at some point this year, it’s best not to get your hopes up and take a look at the more durable Akin.