Evaluating Baltimore Orioles Prospect Keegan Akin

Keegan Akin        LHP        Frederick Keys

DOB: 4/1/95    Height: 6-0       Weight: 225lbs           Bats: Left          Throws: Left

Fastball (50/55)    Slider (45/50)     Changeup (40/45)   Command (50/50+)

2nd round pick, 54th overall, by Baltimore in 2016, signed for $1,177,200 – 22y/o who is listed as 6-0 225lbs, well-built and stocky physique with little to no projection remaining.  Akin throws from a high 3/4s arm slot and utilizes a waist-high or slightly above leg-lift; possesses a simple one-step movement into leg-lift and drives toward home, repeats mechanics well.  Will occasionally lose balance toward second base, causing his arm to lag behind his lower half.  Akin keeps his body slightly closed to lefties, allowing him to hide the baseball and deceive hitters.  A very polished pitcher for High-A, Akin pounds the bottom of the strike zone, changes the batters’ eye level and sets up hitters.

3-pitch repertoire:  Fastball (89-92mph, T93) shows good life at the upper velocity bands and can sink the pitch at lower velocities.  Akin keeps the ball down in the zone, can both cut or sink it and locates it well inside to righties.  Akin commands his fastball to all four quadrants and the pitch consistently shows some type of wiggle.  Changeup (80-83mph) was inconsistent, as the pitch was rather mediocre early, but flashed good sink and arm-side fading action later in the outing.  He will slow his arm speed on the poor offerings, but when he replicates the arm action, the pitch can be a fringe-average to average.  The slider (81-83mph) was thrown only a few times but showed average potential.  Akin threw his slider both in the zone for a strike and in the dirt as a chase pitch; can look slurvy at worst, needs repetitions to refine the offering.

Akin is an impressive and polished collegiate pitcher who looks advanced for High-A.  He possesses a future above-average fastball, an easily repeatable delivery and the chance for average to above-average command.  Unfortunately Akin lacks a plus offering or the projection remaining in his frame to believe his stuff could significantly improve.  This leaves him with a relatively similar ceiling and floor, as Akin profiles as a major league arm, with the ceiling of a #5 back-end starting pitcher and the likely outcome being a long reliever and occasional spot starter.  He is a low-to-medium risk prospect with a low-to-medium ceiling.  Akin could see a promotion to Double-A later this summer and projects to be major league ready late in 2018 or 2019.

Scouting Hector Silvestre

Hector Silvestre                 LHP        Evaluated 6/4 & 4/19/17

Fastball (40/45)   Slider (40/40)   Changeup (40/45)   Command (50/50)

International free agent signee in January 2011 by the Washington Nationals; Born in December 1992, Silvestre will spend this entire season at 24 y/o.  Silvestre is a well-built and wiry strong 6-3 180lbs with little projection remaining.  He utilizes a relatively simple, 1-step and rock delivery with few moving parts and he repeats his mechanics fairly well both from windup and stretch.  Silvestre throws from a medium 3/4s arm slot and pitches from the extreme third base side of the rubber.  There is some deception in the delivery, especially for lefties, as he hides ball well with his body through his pitching motion.

3-pitch repertoire – Fastball (89-91mph, T92) has natural cutting action in toward righties, especially at lower velocities – Silvestre locates the fastball well low in the zone, but struggles to command above the belt; pitch generates swings-and-misses.  His slider (79mph-83mph) is rather inconsistent both in shape and quality, some flash late bite into the strike zone and others are rather loopy.  The changeup (82-84mph) replicates arm speed well and shows quality arm-side fade, but he struggles to throw it for strikes as it tends to drift outside the zone.

Silvestre is a well-built and polished left-handed pitcher with three decent but inconsistent offerings.  He is somewhat old for the High-A level and his lack of an above-average future pitch limits his ceiling.  Silvestre is a crafty lefty who competes and knows how to pitch.  Unless his offspeed stuff improves, Silvestre possesses the ceiling as a quality Triple-A starter who unfortunately stagnates in the upper minors.

 

Scouting Sheldon Neuse

Sheldon Neuse   3B/SS     Hagerstown Suns

Hit (40/50) / Power (50/55) / Run (45/45) / Defense (55/55) / Arm (65/65) 

Washington’s 2nd round pick, 58th overall, in the 2016 MLB Draft, signed for $900,000.  Born in December 1994, Neuse will spend the entire season as a 22 y/o.  Listed at 6-0 195lbs., Neuse looks a bit taller than listed and his body projects to add 7-10 additional pounds as he matures physically.  He has average to below-average speed, consistently clocking between 4.32 – 4.38 from home to first.  From mere observation, Neuse has quality makeup, constantly hustling in the field and seems popular with his teammates.

Defensively Neuse has spent time at both shortstop and third base this season for Hagerstown.  Neuse has a cannon-like arm, actually spending time as a pitcher in college at Oklahoma State.  It easily projects as a plus arm and is one of the strongest non-shortstop arms I have seen in many years.  Neuse has average to fringe-average speed and mediocre athleticism, making him profile more naturally at third baseman.  But the combination of his first-step quickness, soft hands and strong arm make him profile as an above-average defender at the hot corner.

At the plate Neuse is a right-handed hitter with impressive bat speed but struggles to find a consistent length to his swing, as it can get long when he tries to “sell out” for power.  He has noticeably attempted to cut down his swing this season, with positive results.  Neuse will flash above-average to plus raw power in batting practice and has begun incorporating the long ball into game action.  He displays intriguing power to right-center field, including the ability to hit it over the wall.  He needs repetitions to get more comfortable with the swing changes he is making, but Neuse projects as an average hitter with above-average raw power.

Neuse has an intriguing package of tools and is the type of prospect you appreciate the more you watch him play.  He should be an asset defensively at third base at the big league level due to his strong arm, soft hands and reasonable athleticism.  The primary concern in his profile is the hit tool, as he has struggled in the past consistently making contact and is attempting to refine his swing.  Not to mention trying to project how he will perform against pitching three levels above him.  That said he has quality bat speed, recognizes spin and has a game plan for each at-bat, three key elements for future success as a hitter.

Neuse profiles as an average to above-average 2-way third baseman, with the ceiling of a solid starting third baseman, and the most likely outcome being a versatile bench bat.  Neuse is not flashy, but is a quality left side of the infield prospect who should receive more helium in prospect circles.  He could see a promotion to High-A Potomac in the next 30-45 days and perhaps be major league ready late in 2019.

Scouting Mariano Rivera Jr.

Mariano Rivera Jr.           RHP        Evaluated 3x in 2017, Most Recently 6/6/17

Fastball (45/50)   Slider (40/45)   Changeup (30/35)   Command (40/40)

Washington’s 4th round pick in 2015, signed for $410,700; 23.5 y/o who is listed at 5-11 155lbs and looks smaller, appears to be wearing his older brother’s uniform; very little to no projection left.  Rivera’s a pure relief prospect, pitching exclusively from the stretch and utilizes an almost straight over the top arm slot.  He has a fast arm and a short arm swing.  His mechanics are not particularly smooth, as his medium leg lift leads into throwing off a stiff from leg and a significant head “whack” after foot strike.  Furthermore, he struggles repeating his delivery, hindering both his command and control.

3-pitch repertoire: Fastball (90-93mph, T94) shows late life and occasional arm-side action when he stayed on top; pitch flattens with little plane when he drops his arm slot.  The fastball “plays down” due to the lack of movement and command issues.  The slider (84-87mph) is extremely inconsistent – at the lower bands he struggles with his location and the pitch becomes slurvy.  At the higher velocities it works more like a cutter, sometimes moving away from the barrel and other times finding the heart of the zone.  Rivera will throw the occasional (81-83mph) changeup, but it is a subpar offering as he visibly slows his arm down, causing it to resemble a batting practice fastball.  I applaud the effort in trying to throw a changeup, but it needs significant improvement to be a major league offering.

Rivera has looked underwhelming in each of the outings I have seen this season.  It is concerning he is acting as a non-closer in High-A two years post-draft and struggling against younger competition.  He has good fastball velocity and shows the ability to spin a breaking pitch, but his lack of an above-average pitch and mediocre command limits his ceiling.  Considering he is a 4th round pick and the son of the greatest reliever in history, he will get more opportunities than similarly talented prospects.  However, Rivera profiles as a reliever who stagnates in the upper minors, with the best case scenario being he gets a “cup of coffee” in the major leagues.