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Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospect scouting report: Joel Seddon, RHP

Our Oakland A's 2017 top-50 prospects list is out. Now find out more about the players on that list. In this piece, a close look at top-50 prospect Joel Seddon. Seddon struggled during the first half, but was an ace for Midland during the second half of 2016. Can he carry that momentum in 2017?

Name: Joel Seddon
Position: RHP
Height/Weight: 6’1’’, 165
Bats/Throws: R/R
Age: 24
How Acquired: Drafted in the 11th round of the 2014 MLB Draft

It was a tale of two seasons for Joel Seddon, who got off to a dismal start with Double-A Midland but put together a second half that portends good things to come for the former South Carolina closer.

Seddon was the A’s first pick on Day Three of the 2014 MLB draft, but he was one of the first from his draft class to reach full-season ball. After a two-inning stint in the Arizona Rookie League, he jumped up to Low-A Beloit and posted a 2.84 ERA and a 20:8 K:BB in 25.1 innings for the Snappers. 

In 2015, Seddon moved up again, this time starting the season with High-A Stockton. Almost exclusively a reliever in college, Seddon’s career-high in innings pitched came in 2014 when he threw 76 innings between college and the pros. The A’s decided to try Seddon out as a starter in 2015, but they had to be judicious about how they allocated his innings. He began and finished the season with the Ports in the bullpen but made 14 starts in between those relief stints. All told, he posted a 3.59 ERA and an 82:17 K:BB in 105 innings in the Cal League. His walk rate was higher, but otherwise Seddon’s numbers were nearly identical between the rotation and the bullpen that year. 

To begin the 2016 season, the A’s decided to keep Seddon in the rotation. He began the year in a tandem rotation, but was on a regular starter’s leash a few weeks into the season. It was an up-and-down first season in the upper-levels for Seddon, although how he finished leads to plenty of optimism about what is to come for the right-hander.

Sometimes a number is just a number, but other times it sums things up quite well. In Seddon’s case, the 6.66 ERA he posted before the All-Star break was descriptive of how the half had gone. He had a devil of a time avoiding hard contact, allowing 91 hits – including 10 homers – in 73 innings. Seddon turned things around completely after the break. His ERA was a miniscule 2.05 in 70.1 innings. He allowed just 58 hits and three homeruns, and his line-drive rate went from 28% in the first half to 21% in the second half. His groundball rate also went from 38% to 45%. Seddon also cut his walk rate by more than a third and increased his strike-out rate by nearly the same amount. Seddon’s strong run continued into the post-season, when he made two starts for the RockHounds and allowed three runs on nine hits in 11 innings. He struck-out 10 and walked three. All told, Seddon threw a career-best 154.1 innings between the regular and post-seasons.

Joel Seddon Stats

2016 Midland 143.1 4.40 149 48 75 0.97
Career 276 3.95 273 75 181 1.09

Seddon made a mechanical tweak mid-season that helped him improve. He adjusted his release point to be more square to the plate, which helped him re-discover the location on his fastball, which was off at the start of the season. However, A’s minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson says that the difference for Seddon was more mental than physical.

“He might have been one pitch from being removed from that rotation and he went on that roll. It was tremendous to see. He gained confidence, and that might have been the biggest thing,” Patterson said. “In talking to [Midland pitching coach John Wasdin], I asked ‘why now and not in the beginning?’ and Was said Seddon said he didn’t trust that his stuff was going to be good enough in the beginning. That part was good to hear that he learned to trust his stuff and didn’t try to do too much. When he just threw his pitches and didn’t over-throw them, he learned ‘okay, my stuff does play.’”

Despite his experience as a closer at an SEC school, Seddon doesn’t have the explosive fastball that one expects from a late-innings reliever. His fastball sits 89-91 as a starter and can eek up a bit higher in a relief role. However, he can throw his fastball for strikes in any situation, so much so that when he first came to the A’s, Oakland’s minor league pitching staff had to teach him how to throw outside of the strike-zone effectively. His two-seam fastball gets some sink and movement to it. He was a flyball pitcher last season, especially during the first half of the year, but as he found more success, he also saw his fastball sitting more in the lower-half of the strike-zone and getting more arm-side run.

Joel Seddon Scouting Video

Seddon has plenty of tools in his belt with which he can attack hitters. He throws a two-seam and a four-seam fastball, a slider, a curveball and a change-up. All three of his off-speed pitches are average or above. When all of his pitches are working, he is able to keep hitters guessing because he can throw all of his pitches for strikes and in any count. Despite being lean, Seddon is in outstanding physical condition and proved this season that he is able to handle the load as a starter.

Whether Seddon remains a starter throughout his career remains to be seen. Former A’s minor league pitching coordinator Garvin Alston likened Seddon to former A’s swingman Jesse Chavez. Alston saw similarities between Seddon and Chavez in their ability to be durable and to be able to attack hitters regardless of their role. Seddon is tough mentally and has proven he can pitch his way through slumps and other adversity.

Seddon will go into spring training challenging for a spot with Triple-A Nashville. Given the A’s glut of right-handed starters and relievers in the upper-levels, Seddon may have to begin the year back in Midland. However, a strong start with the RockHounds will put him in an excellent position to jump to Triple-A at some point in 2017.

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