Akin doesn't let run support affect mentality

Orioles No. 9 prospect strikes out six over 6 2/3 scoreless innings

Keegan Akin ranks second in the Eastern League with 42 strikeouts over 39 1/3 innings. (Patrick Cavey/MiLB.com)

By Chris Bumbaca / MiLB.com | May 12, 2018 12:41 AM

Keegan Akin had plenty of offensive help, but it's not like he needed much. 

The Orioles' No. 9 prospect allowed four hits and a walk while striking out six over 6 2/3 innings Friday in Double-A Bowie's 12-0 rout of Hartford at Prince George's Stadium. 

Akin (4-3) said run support is nice to have, but he refuses to let the scoreboard dictate his mentality on the mound.

"I don't care if the score is 10-0 or 1-0. I always like to think about it as a 0-0 ballgame or 1-0 ballgame," he said. "It helps me stay locked in and go out there and do what I do best -- throw strike one. It's easier for me to pitch when you think it's 1-0 or a 0-0 ballgame than 10-0. Sometimes you see guys get a little loose or say, 'Oh, I got a 10-run lead.' Things can go wrong, so you've got to get locked in."

Video: Bowie's Akin finishes sixth with strikeout

The 2016 second-round pick allowed one baserunner through his first four innings -- No. 18 Rockies prospect Brian Mundell doubled to center field with one out in the second -- before running into his first test of the night in the fifth. Mundell and Mylz Jones opened the inning wtih back-to-back singles, but the 23-year-old left-hander induced a double-play grounder from 26th-ranked Wes Rogers and got Omar Carrizales to fly to left.

Even before Akin had to hunker down, he felt himself cruising. 

"You try not to think about that too much. Your game plan is to throw strikes and get hitters out," he said. "You don't really think about, 'Oh, there's only been one baserunner,' or anything like that. You're in the zone and you've just got to attack the hitters. That's how you've got to think about it." 

Gameday box score

The two-time winner of Carolina League Pitcher of the Week honors in 2017 said he felt especially comfortable Friday, but couldn't pinpoint why. 

"It's just baseball," he said. "That's how it is." 

Akin struck out No. 13 overall prospect Brendan Rodgers to end the sixth and came back out to record the first two outs of the seventh, sandwiching punchouts of Sam Hilliard and Jones around a Mundell single. Right-hander Ryan Meisinger took over and retired Rogers on a fly ball.

Video: Akin records sixth strikeout for Bowie

The Alma, Michigan, native intended to set hitters up with the fastball, then execute his changeup later in the count.

"My best pitch tonight was my changeup," said Akin, who didn't even throw the pitch until the third inning. "I was hoping they'd put it in play, save me some pitches, but they ended up being strikeouts." 

The only Yard Goat he had a difficult time putting away was Mundell, who racked up three hits. Akin and Mundell were teammates on the Salt River club in the Arizona Fall League last season.

"He's definitely seeing the ball better, I think, just from talking to him," Akin said.

The Western Michigan product lowered his ERA to 2.75 and turned in his longest outing since June 27, when he delivered eight scoreless innings for Class A Advanced Frederick. 

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Akin threw 68 of a season-high 103 pitches for strikes. He picked up eight outs through the air, compared to three on the ground.

"For the most part, usually, I'm more of a fly-ball pitcher than a ground-ball pitcher," he said. "No clue why, I couldn't tell you. That's just how it happens." 

Through his last five starts, the lefty has allowed five earned runs over 30 1/3 innings. He's 4-1 with a 1.48 ERA in that span. 

Catcher Audry Perez smacked a two-run homer in the second and went 3-for-5 with five RBIs, falling a triple shy of the cycle. Ryan Mountcastle -- the O's top-ranked prospect -- singled, walked and scored twice, while Mike Yastrzemski was 3-for-4 with three doubles, four RBIs and three runs scored. Yastrzemski's trio of doubles tied a franchise record, and he became the first Baysox player with three two-baggers in a game since Mountcastle accomplished the feat on Aug. 19 against Erie. 

"We've got a tough lineup," Akin said. "It's not easy to pitch to. I wouldn't want to pitch to it, I can tell you that."

Chris Bumbaca is a contributor for MiLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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