Norfolk, VA- Growing up in Michigan, Orioles pitching prospect, Keegan Akin, played football and wrestled along with playing baseball. His junior year of high school, he put all other sports aside and started focusing solely on baseball. His goal was to play college baseball.
As Akin put it, “My goal was always to go play college ball. My junior year of high school I started talking to some schools and that was when I quit playing football and basically just stuck with baseball.”
The left-handed hurler stuck with baseball and ended up playing college ball two hours away from home, at Western Michigan University. During his time as a Bronco, the team was good enough to make the playoffs every one of his seasons.
“I think we made it to the MAC tournament every year,” Akin said. “My junior year we won it. I ended up playing in a Louisville regional that I was fortunate enough to pitch in.”
In 2016 a dream came true, when Akin was selected in the second round of the 2016 MLB Entry Draft. At the time, people who were close to Keegan were telling him not to watch the draft. Akin ignored their advice, tuning in.
“It was nerve racking and it was exciting,” he explained. “I was fortunate enough to be home and watch it with my family. We had a little party at the house.” Akin also went on to say what he did right after he heard his name called. “I hugged my Mom and Dad. It was a day that I won’t ever forget that’s for sure.”
After climbing through the Orioles farm system, Keegan is a call-up away from “the show.” Tides Pitching Coach Mike Griffin admits that Akin is still learning how to pitch at the Triple-A level.
“First of all, Keegan is learning how to pitch at this level,” Griffin said. “He’s coming off one heck of a year last year in 2018. He’s started off really well here also. There is a lot of good things that are happening, that I’m pleased with. There are also some things that we’re working on for him to improve so that he can pitch in the big leagues with consistency.”
Some of the things Griffin has been pleased with are Akin’s change-up and his trust in the game. “To date he has done a very good job with that. I’ve been impressed with his change-up so far,” said Griffin.
As Keegan progressed through the ranks of the minor leagues, he’s seen the level of talent increase. The one thing Akin admits is that it’s harder is facing more skilled hitters.
“The one thing I have noticed is the discipline of the hitters,” Akin said. “They’re a little bit more disciplined the higher up you go. You have to adapt to the game and the strike zone changes a little bit. On the other hand, the fielders behind you are better and your hitters are just as good. It’s all about adapting and playing.”
Griffin and Akin are currently working on his change-up, with the southpaw honing the pitch under Griffin.
“He’s been teaching me how to use it and when to use it,” Keegan explained. “And he’s reassuring me, because I’ve never really thrown it as much as I have this year. I was a little timid with it, but he’s been there to support me. He’s pushing me to use it, use it, use it rather than shy away from it.”
Like any other ball player in Triple-A, Akin is only a phone call away from the Big Leagues. Until then, he will hone his craft at Harbor Park in Norfolk.