Myriad O's Thoughts: Machado's and Ventura's suspensions; Drafting Midwestern pitchers; The next Arrieta? -
Dan Connolly

Myriad O’s Thoughts: Machado’s and Ventura’s suspensions; Drafting Midwestern pitchers; The next Arrieta?

The commissioner’s office doled out its suspensions for Tuesday’s brawl at Camden Yards and Orioles shortstop Manny Machado got four games for charging the mound while Kansas City Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura received nine games for plunking Ventura.

At first blush, it looks like Ventura, who has a history of throwing his high-90s fastballs at hitters, got the worst of it here. His suspension more than doubles that of Machado’s.

But because it is nine games, and not 10, that means Ventura really only misses one start. And he and Machado still get paid while suspended, so it’s not as if the nine games out hits him harder in the wallet. Both players were fined; Machado’s reportedly was at $2,500; I didn’t see any figures on Ventura’s suspension.

Both will appeal – and that usually takes a couple weeks.

The best the Orioles can hope for is maybe one game reduced for Machado. And, maybe they’ll get lucky and J.J. Hardy will be back from injury before Machado has to serve his suspension. It probably won’t work out that way, though.

So the Orioles will have to play three or four games down to 24 men on the roster because they can’t replace a suspended player. The Royals have to do the same for nine games, but really that’s only one day, since starters are dead roster spots the other four days in between outings.

These suspensions are always based on precedent. And, in comparison to other beanball situations, Ventura did get a hefty number of games. But look at it more closely, and it still appears the Orioles and Machado got the worst of the deal.

O’s target college pitching and the Midwest

Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich said before the amateur draft began that he’d be targeting pitching and that he felt like some good college arms would be available if he didn’t want to take on the high-risk of high school pitchers.

Well, he wasn’t kidding. The Orioles had three picks in the first two rounds Thursday and they grabbed three collegiate pitchers: right-hander Cody Sedlock of the University of Illinois (No. 27), lefty Keegan Akin of Western Michigan University (54th) and righty Matthias Dietz (59th) from John A. Logan CC in Illinois. All three likely will start at Short-A Aberdeen this year once they sign.

The Midwest is not exactly a primary hotbed for baseball talent, partially because of the inclement weather that region faces in the spring. But Rajsich said that was a never a concern for his group.

“You’ve got to go where the arms are. You’ve got to scout the areas where you think you have the highest chance of success,” Rajsich said. “That’s kind of the way we approach it. We are always looking for athletic players with plus arms and it doesn’t really matter where they come from.”

All three were slotted in Baseball America’s June 200 prospects list lower than where the Orioles selected them. But, really, it’s impossible to know whether the organization reached or got steals at this point. The baseball draft is by far the most difficult to predict since most of these guys don’t get to the majors for several years, if at all.

What we do know is that the Orioles believe pitching is exceptionally expensive in the free-agent market, and also can be highly volatile, so the organization wants to gather as much of it as possible. Rajsich said he watched Sedlock pitch twice this year, roughly seven or eight others in the organization scouted him and, “he was pretty much a unanimous selection. We all thought very highly of him.”

Sedlock compares himself to Arrieta

It’s always interesting to hear which big-league players these draftees emulate.

I asked Sedlock whom he would compare himself to in the majors right now, and the Illinois kid had an interesting – and painful for Orioles’ fans – answer: Jake Arrieta, the former Oriole right-hander who struggled in Baltimore, was traded away and then won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award for the Chicago Cubs.

“I know it’s a little different, a former Oriole going to the Cubs,” Sedlock said. “But just watching him pitch, we have the same sort of frame. We both like to take care of our bodies well. (Both have a) two-seam fastball, slider, curveball and a changeup in our back pocket. Sort of the same sort of arsenal.”

Orioles fans surely hope Sedlock can be that type of pitcher while he is the organization.

Interesting connection between top two picks

Sedlock and Akin were actually teammates – and became friends — last summer in the collegiate Cape Cod League, which is often a proving ground for eventual draftees.

Sedlock was asked for a scouting report on Akin, and this is what he said:

“Keegan is a great kid. We played all summer in the Cape. He has an electric left arm. One of the heaviest fastballs I’ve ever seen … It’s going to be great to have a familiar face and go on this road to the big leagues with someone I know.”



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