With their first selection in the 2016 first-year-player draft, the Orioles took 6-foot-4, 210-pound right-hander Cody Sedlock from the University of Illinois. The Orioles followed with another college pitcher, taking Western Michigan University lefty Keegan Akin with the 54th pick overall.
They went to the college ranks for their third and final pick Thursday, the 69th overall, by grabbing right-hander Matthias Dietz out of John A. Logan CC in Illinois.
Using the 27th pick, compensation for losing Wei-Yin Chen to free agency, the Orioles grabbed the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and First Team All-American who posted a 2.49 ERA and struck out 116 batters (in 101 1/3 innings) as a 20-year-old junior. He allowed just 80 hits and walked just 31 batters in 14 starts.
He throws his fastball in the mid-90s and also has a slider, curveball and occasionally mixes in a changeup. An Illinois native, he was a reliever in his freshman and sophomore years at the University of Illinois, where he was a plant biotechnology major.
“I saw Cody twice this year and both times he pitched very well. I’m very taken with his size, the fact that he repeats his mechanics and throws strikes. It’s just hard to ignore,” Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich said. “He has major league weapons that will play up here in the big leagues and hopefully he’ll move fast and help our ballclub in the very near future.”
Although Baseball America listed Sedlock 42nd in its initial Top 200, he was viewed as moving up draft boards and was connected with the Houston Astros at No. 17. When the Orioles landed him at 27, mlb.com draft expert Jim Callis called it a “tremendous value.”
Sedlock, who turns 21 later this month, becomes the third college pitcher in nine years taken by the Orioles with their first pick in the first round, joining Kevin Gausman (2012) and Brian Matusz (2008).
In a teleconference after the draft, Sedlock said he was close with Orioles’ Midwest area scout Dan Durst, knows other members of the organization and believed Baltimore had an interest in him early on this year.
“It wasn’t really that much of a surprise, but I’m excited for this,” Sedlock said of being drafted by the Orioles.
Akin, 21, was the top starter for Western Michigan and was named a third-team All-American after posting a 1.82 ERA and striking out 133 batters in 109 innings over 17 starts. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has a fastball that consistently sits in the low 90s.
“We like Keegan. He’s a fearless competitor,” Rajsich said. “He’s got a lightning fast arm. He seems to have a little extra in his arm when he needs it, but he can really pitch with his fastball and his secondary stuff is developing. And we think it will get better. We like the ceiling. We think he is a future, middle-of-the-rotation starter and the kid really knows how to compete. He’s a winner.”
Sedlock and Akin pitched together last summer on the same team in the Cape Cod League, a club managed by an Orioles’ part-time scout.
Dietz, 20, is considered the best junior college pitcher in the country this year after going 12-1 with a 1.22 ERA. A 29th-round pick of the San Francisco Giants who did not sign in 2015, he is 6-foot-6, 220 pounds and has a low-to-mid 90s fastball.
All three likely will join Short-A Aberdeen this year assuming they sign.