Keegan Akin is making his first go-around in the Eastern League look pretty easy.
The Orioles' seventh-ranked prospect allowed two hits and struck out 10 over seven innings as Double-A Bowie blanked Binghamton, 7-0, on Sunday night at NYSEG Stadium. Akin (5-4) walked one and lowered his ERA to 2.97 en route to his fifth win in seven decisions. His second double-digit strikeout game of the season stands as the most by a Baysox hurler since Mike Ballard recorded three in 2011.
"He's really gotten into a nice rhythm with us and in the league," Baysox pitching coach Kennie Steenstra said. "He's repeating his delivery well, throwing more strikes and working the count much better than earlier in the season. I hadn't seen much of him prior to Spring Training, but I knew he pitched well in the Arizona Fall League and anytime you have success out there, it's a good sign. But watching him so far, I see a good head on his shoulders and good stuff."
Video: Bowie's Akin whiffs 10th batter in seven scoreless
Armed with a 1-0 lead before he stepped on the mound, Akin faced one batter over the minimum through five innings. He allowed a one-out single in the second to Mets No. 17 prospect Jhoan Urena, who was caught stealing by Audry Perez on Matt Oberste's strikeout. Akin fanned the side in the third and worked around a one-out walk to Jeff McNeil in the fourth. The 23-year-old set down the Rumble Ponies in order in the fifth, allowed a two-out double to Levi Michael in the sixth and ended his third scoreless outing of the season after throwing 61 of 99 pitches for strikes.
Akin sports a 2.21 ERA over his last eight starts, during which he's surrendered 12 earned runs over 48 2/3 innings. He gave up seven runs in his first two outings of the season.
Gameday box score
"He commanded his fastball really well early tonight and the secondary stuff came later," Steenstra said. "The slider wasn't there early, but the more he ramped it up, the better it became. [Binghamton] is a lefty-heavy lineup, so he used it a lot more on those guys and it all came together."
Selected in the second round of the 2016 Draft out of Western Michigan, the southpaw debuted with a 1.04 ERA in nine starts for Class A Short Season Aberdeen. He bypassed Class A Delmarva and started 21 times in 2017 for Class A Advanced Frederick, where he was 7-8 with a 4.14 ERA and 111 strikeouts over 100 innings.
Akin leads the Eastern League with 63 punchouts over 57 2/3 innings and is holding opponents to a .211 average, including a .141 mark against lefties.
"Keegan has gotten a lot better making adjustments during the game," Steenstra said. "One of the toughest things for guys moving up is to recognize swings and what they're trying to do up there at the plate. It can't be all on the catcher. But he's reading the batters better than he was early on, and it shows.
"He's able to generate strikeouts but remain efficient at the same time, which is great. He doesn't get into many drawn-out counts, which helps. He's got a sneaky fastball that gets on guys, especially the first time through the lineup when we'll see some awkward swings."
Cedric Mullins matched his career high with four hits while falling a triple shy of the cycle and scoring three times for Bowie. The Orioles' No. 6 prospect is batting .500 (25-for-50) with eight multi-hit efforts during a 12-game hitting streak that's raised his average 52 points to a season-high .306. It's the longest streak by a Baysox player since Garabez Rosa hit in 12 straight from July 19-30, 2017.
Video: Bowie's Mullins doubles in a run for his fourth hit
Corban Joseph had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and two RBIs for Bowie. Luis Gonzalez, the O's No. 23 prospect, and Jay Flaa combined for two strikeouts over two perfect innings to complete the shutout.
Binghamton starter Christian James (0-1) allowed a run on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts in four innings in his season debut. The 20-year-old made 11 starts for Rookie-level Kingsport last season.