With a healthy body and a healthy new approach to the game, things are falling into place for Cody Sedlock.
The Baltimore Orioles' first-round selection in baseball’s 2016 draft, the Rock Island Alleman graduate from Sherrard is thriving on the mound for Frederick in the Carolina League.
Equally important, coming off of an injury-impacted 2018 season, Sedlock feels rejuvenated.
"I’m feeling as good on the mound right now as I have at a time since 2016, maybe the beginning of ’17," the 6-foot-3 right-hander said.
"It’s a relief to be able to go out and pitch the way I know I’m capable of pitching and then be ready to go back to work the next day instead of spending the next five days trying to get back to where I need to be to go again."
That’s taken time.
Sedlock made 20 starts for Frederick in 2017 but made his final appearances a year ago in the Gulf Coast League and New York-Penn League after being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome early in the year following six starts for Frederick.
The setback, a compression of veins or nerves from the neck to below the shoulder, sidelined him for nearly three months before he began working his way back with rehab appearances for Baltimore’s short-season affiliates.
Sedlock returned ready this spring for his third experience in the Carolina League, accompanied by a fresh mindset and a fresh approach mapped out by the new hierarchy of the Orioles organization.
Baltimore’s new general manager, Mike Elias, and assistant general manager Sig Mejdal joined the Orioles after working together in the Cardinals and Astros organizations for more than a decade.
They brought with them an analytics-based approach to the game that Sedlock finds much to his liking.
The Orioles' new minor-league pitching coordinator is Chris Holt, who worked as the pitching coach for the Quad-Cities River Bandits in 2016 and followed Elias to the Baltimore organization.
Frederick’s development coach, Adam Bleday, pitched for Quad-Cities last year before moving into a coaching role this season.
Their approach has changed Sedlock’s perspective.
"It’s something I really hadn’t been exposed to before, but I really believe what I’m learning is helping me become a better pitcher," Sedlock said.
"Now, I have a real clear picture of what pitches work and what pitches don’t work well against different hitters in certain situations, and that is allowing me to create a more effective plan as I head into a game."
It’s providing Sedlock with data that not only prepares him to face specific hitters but helps formulate his own approach.
"I feel more prepared, more ready, and a lot of that has to do with the analytics side of things," he said.
A byproduct has been more interaction between coaches and players and among teammates.
"There is a lot less sitting around now, and everybody is talking with each other. I think we’re learning from each other, and that is making a difference," Sedlock said. "It’s been a good situation for me and coming off an injury-filled year, it couldn’t have come at a better time."
Sedlock gained confidence from his work early this season.
He posted a 3-0 record with a 1.44 ERA in eight early season starts for Frederick, establishing career highs in strikeouts and innings pitched while limiting opponents to a .140 batting average.
"I’ve been able to do a lot of good things so far this season. I feel like I’ve done a decent job of staying consistent, going out there and taking things one day at a time," Sedlock said. "I’m taking every opportunity I get as a chance to get better, a chance to improve."
Things were working so well for the 2016 Big Ten pitcher of the year from Illinois that he was on pace to reach his predetermined innings limit for the year by the end of July.
Because of that, the organization opted to scale back his work in late May and, while healthy, Sedlock did not pitch in a game between May 25 and June 20.
His work early on was at a level where Sedlock was selected to participate in the Carolina League All-Star Game hosted by Frederick.
"Given everything I’ve been through, it meant a lot to be selected," Sedlock said. "It was a first for me as a professional and it’s a sign that things are headed in the right direction. The work is never done, but I’m making real progress."
Sedlock has returned to mound during the second half of the season for the Keys, beginning with a pair of relief outings before returning to Frederick’s starting rotation last week.
He suffered his first loss of the season Saturday in an outing at Carolina but is currently 4-1 on the season with a 2.53 ERA. Sedlock has struck out 60 batters and walked 23 in 57 innings of work.
"I’ve been attacking the zone the way I want and having success with that," Sedlock said. "My breaking balls and my fastball have all felt good, and I’ve been able to throw them in certain counts and certain situations to make it work for me."
He wants that ability to carry over to his work throughout the finals months of the season.
"I just want to keep pushing forward from one outing to the next, doing what I can to stay consistent," Sedlock said. "It’s been a good start and I want to keep that momentum going."