Every scouting director in the majors tabbed players on Thursday, the first day of the Major League Baseball draft, who they believe will before long be wearing his team's colors in the big leagues.
The Orioles' top scout, Gary Rajsich, falls under that category, especially when it comes to first-round pick Cody Sedlock. In describing the 27th overall pick on a conference call early Friday morning, Rajsich laid out why.
"I saw Cody twice this year, and both times he pitched very well," Rajsich said. "I'm very taken with his size, the fact that he repeats his mechanics and throws strikes. It's just hard to ignore. He has major league weapons that will play up here in the big leagues. Hopefully, he'll move fast and help our ballclub in the very near future."
Sedlock, like second-round picks Keegan Akin and Matthias Dietz, is a college pitcher who upon signing would enter an organization in need of upside arms. The Illinois product and his two new teammates will likely begin their careers at Short-A Aberdeen in the New York-Penn League.
Their workload once there is unclear — all three worked as starters this year and broached the 100-inning mark for their college teams, representing a big jump from the season before. Sedlock said his two years in the bullpen at Illinois were followed by spots in the rotation in summer ball, so the innings jump wasn't a lot for him.
"The summer after my freshman year, I started in the Northwoods League, and the summer after my sophomore year I started in the Cape Cod League," Sedlock said. "It was a little bit easier of a transition from the bullpen than other guys who are bullpen-to-starter guys, but one thing that was different is I'm just gaining the consistency throughout the year. I think I got that in the second half of the season and kind of molded into my true starter form."
Over his last five starts in Big Ten play, Sedlock averaged more than 8 2/3 innings per start with a 1.01 ERA.
Sedlock said he models his game on former Orioles pitcher Jake Arrieta, who went on to win the National League Cy Young Award with the Chicago Cubs.
"I know it's a little different, from a former Oriole going to the Cubs. But just watching him pitch, the same sort of frame — we both like to take care of our bodies well," Sedlock said. "Two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and changeup out of the back pocket. It's sort of the same sort of arsenal."
He's not alone in possessing a heavy fastball in the Orioles' draft class. He played with Akin, a Western Michigan product, in Cape Cod last season and said Akin has "one of the heaviest fastballs I've ever seen."
"He's a fearless competitor," Rajsich said of Akin. "Like Cody said, he's got a lightning-fast arm. He always seems to have a little extra in his arm when he needs it, but he can really pitch with his fastball. The secondary stuff is developing, and we think it'll get better. We like the ceiling. We think he's a future middle-of-the-rotation starter, and the kid really knows how to compete. He's a winner."
Sedlock said he hopes to play with Akin for years to come. It's early to project their paths at this point, but the route the Orioles sent 2014 fifth-round pick David Hess on shows they're not opposed to moving a college arm quickly.
There are exceptions for first-round picks, such as 2012 top pick Kevin Gausman, who reached High-A Frederick in his draft year, started the next year in Double-A and reached the majors that May. Perhaps that's a path they'll try to replicate for Sedlock, whom Rajsich says has all the qualities that would allow for that — a repeatable delivery, athleticism, reliable secondary pitches, etc.
But for both Akin and Dietz, a junior college product who dominated at John A. Logan College (Ill.), it might not be until camp breaks next spring when their true trajectory is apparent. All three, unless their college workload was adjudged to be too heavy, will get a taste of professional baseball in Aberdeen and possibly Low-A Delmarva this year.
If they begin next season in Delmarva, even if the goal is to acclimate them to a five-day routine more, it will put them on a slower track to the majors. To fast-track them to High-A, as they did with Hess last season, will indicate the Orioles are serious about pushing their college arms to contribute quickly — and that they're drafting pitchers capable of that.