The Orioles have recalled left-handed pitcher Keegan Akin from their alternate site in Bowie. He’ll be available in long relief on Saturday night and Sunday.
Asher Wojciechowski will start Sunday’s game against the Washington Nationals on three days’ rest. Wojciechowski threw five innings in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader against Miami.
Akin, 25, was the Orioles’ second-round draft pick in 2016.
“We’re excited for him to potentially make his debut,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said.
Hyde said that Akin was throwing well at Bowie, and he was training as a starter.
“Continuing to work on command and work on some things that we talked with him about in spring training and summer camp,” Hyde said. “He’s going to give us some length with a guy that’s built up innings-wise.”
Instead of giving Akin a start now, Hyde said starting Wojciechowski on short rest would help keep his staff on normal rest. The Orioles are off on Monday.
“With Wojo only throwing 67 pitches in that [Wednesday] doubleheader start and feeling good, we wanted to give him that start,” Hyde said. “We have Keegan and a fresh bullpen, hopefully, that can handle the next couple of days before an offday.”
Akin was tipped off that a move might be coming on Friday by Chris Holt, the Orioles’ director of pitching.
“I didn’t want to look too far into it,” Akin said in a video conference call on Saturday. “You see guys get a heads-up, and nothing ever comes from it.”
Akin had been in a five-day rotation at Bowie. He spent the first month of spring training with the Orioles and wasn’t sent down until after a March 10 appearance against Atlanta, two days before spring training ended.
He allowed eight runs on 13 hits in 9 2/3 innings for a 7.45 ERA this spring.
“It was my first big league camp,” Akin said. “I went in with open ears, and ready to listen and learn. I was fortunate to start games in spring training. It was good. I had a lot of fun. I just have to execute pitches. If you [make] mistakes, they’ll hit them out of the ballpark. I learned that the hard way.”
Akin was supposed to return to Triple-A Norfolk this year before Covid-19 halted baseball for four months and eliminated the minor league season. In 2019, Akin was 6-7 with a 4.73 ERA and a 1.513 WHIP. It was thought that he’d join the Orioles during the season.
“I wouldn’t say my stuff got better,” Akin said of his workouts and time at Bowie throwing the slider and breaking balls. “I feel way more confidence throwing them on the mound.”
Bryan Holaday caught Akin in spring training and at the alternate site
“I thought he looked outstanding,” Holaday said of spring training. “He pounded the strike zone. I thought he had a good mix of sitting fastballs and changeups and mixed in enough breaking balls to keep them off-balance.”
Holaday said Akin continued to progress during his time at Bowie.
“I think he’s got some pretty good stuff,” Holaday said. “His fastball is really sneaky, and gets in on guys, and he’s got a good changeup. If he sticks to his strengths and pounds the strike zone, he’s going to have some success.”
Akin and his fiancée were about to go grocery shopping when his caller ID made that chore seem less important.
“I didn’t have much to say,” he said. “It caught me off-guard. I had the heads-up yesterday, but I didn’t want to look into it too far and get all worked up about it. It was definitely an exciting moment. I called Mom, I called Dad, let them know. They were all pumped up.”
Akin might soon be joined by infielder/outfielder Ryan Mountcastle, who has been working on his outfield skills and plate discipline.
“He hit a home run off me the other day,” Akin said. “I would say things are going well for Ryan.”
To make room on the roster for Akin, the Orioles optioned outfielder Cedric Mullins to the Bowie alternate site.
Mullins was 1-for-13 (.077) in nine games.