Although the 2014 draft was the first time the Oakland A’s called Joel Seddon’s name, he was a player they had liked dating back to his days as a high school pitcher in Michigan. Seddon went in the 20th round of the 2011 draft, but he elected to go to South Carolina rather than sign with the Toronto Blue Jays at that time.
Seddon pitched three seasons for the Gamecocks, but it wasn’t until the 2014 season that they gave him a significant role on their pitching staff. Although not a flame-thrower, Seddon was entrusted with the closer role and he ran with it. He racked up 14 saves and a 1.66 ERA in 48.2 innings for the Gamecocks in 2014. Seddon struck-out 59, walked 12 and allowed just one homerun while pitching his in-conference games in the ultra-competitive SEC.
"That guy is going to find a way" - Oakland A's Midwest Area Scout Rich Sparks.
It was during the Cape Cod League season in 2013 that Seddon first established himself as a top-20 round draft prospect for 2014. The right-hander threw his fastball in the 90-93 MPH range and posted a 2.17 ERA in a relief role. The A’s called his name during the 11th round of the 2014 draft and he signed quickly.
With experience against top collegiate competition under his belt, Seddon was challenged early in his professional career by the A’s. After a cameo in the Arizona Rookie League, Seddon jumped up to Low-A Beloit, and he would spend the rest of his pro debut season pitching out of the Snappers’ bullpen. Although only a few months into his professional career, Seddon was one of the Snappers’ top relievers during the second half of the 2014 season.
In 25.1 innings, Seddon posted a 2.84 ERA and a 20:8 K:BB. He had a 49.3% groundball rate and held opponents to a .227 average. Seddon continued to impress during the A’s fall Instructional League, earning the title of “Mr. Efficiency”, awarded to the player who uses the fewest pitches per inning.
Although Seddon has primarily been a reliever since leaving high school, he has a deep enough arsenal of pitches to be a starting pitcher. The right-hander features a two-seam and a four-seam fastball, a curveball, slider and change-up. His fastball tops out at 93 and generally sits 88-91. His slider is his out-pitch. He can use his change-up to keep lefties off of his fastball and his curveball is a pitch he can throw early in the count for a strike or later in the count to get a hitter to chase. Seddon’s arm slot isn’t quite over-the-top – which offers some deception – and he moves his arm quickly through his throwing motion. He repeats his delivery well.
Because of his four-pitch mix and his solid delivery, Seddon could see time as a starter next season, or at least as a long reliever with scheduled three- or four-inning outings. Former A’s minor league pitching coordinator and current bullpen coach Scott Emerson compared Seddon to current A’s reliever Dan Otero for Seddon’s ability to pitch aggressively within the strike-zone and for his ability to get groundballs.
“Anytime you can pound the strike-zone and make hitters make contact – and he’s got a good sinker – he’s always one pitch away from two outs, that’s a bonus,” Emerson said. “[Seddon is] a guy with a good sinker, throws a ton of strikes, keeps the ball on the ground and gets his strike-outs when he needs it.”
A’s Midwest Area Scout Rich Sparks has followed Seddon’s career dating back to when Seddon was in high school. Sparks believes that Seddon’s mental toughness and drive will allow him to maximize his physical abilities.
“That guy is going to find a way,” Sparks said. “He’s a smart kid. He wants to learn. He’s a quiet guy. He analyzes a lot of stuff and nothing really rattles him.”
The A’s love pitchers who throw strikes, get groundballs and can utilize their off-speed pitches, and Seddon fits that mold to a tee. Depending on the A’s off-season maneuvering, Seddon will either start the year with Low-A Beloit or High-A Stockton. Even if he starts the year with Beloit, he should get a chance to spend a significant portion of the year with Stockton. If Seddon stays in a bullpen role, he could even reach Double-A by the end of the year.