Brian Akin- Quietly Efficient

Brian Akin is one of those quiet ballplayers in the sense that you almost never hear his name being discussed when they talk about prospects. His entry into a game doesn't cause a clamor of anticipation from those present. But then you look up and notice that game after game he's handled his chores with efficiency. He's moved up in classification and does it again.

He was only a 14th round draft pick, down where they started reeling in the suspects. His first two seasons hardly shook down the thunder- 1-1, 6.04 at Ogden, 1-4, 4.35 at Columbus. The kind that may make a guy start thinking about what else he could do for a living.

Instead, last fall, Brian went to the Instructional League. Normally, such an appearance is by invitation but Brian had to ask if he could be included. There were some things he wanted to work on so they said, "Oh, what the heck. Let him try."

So, again, without fanfare, Akin, a righthander, refined his delivery, moving it up a notch from three-quarters to more over the top. It seemed to work for it allowed his fast ball and his cutter to sink more, highly desirable in a reliever in order to induce ground balls.

He came in this season more prepared, made the Vero Beach staff and began a series of strong appearances for a team that desperately needed them. While others came in and faltered, he held the opposition down. Soon he was given save opportunities and made the most of them. With his ERA at 1.80, seven saves in the books and an impressive 48-16 strikeout-walk ratio, he was promoted to Jacksonville.

With the Suns, he wasn't automatically anointed the game saver for Mark Alexander had that job well in hand. However, Alexander got his inevitable call up to Las Vegas and Akin got some chances to close games out. So far, he's been doing just that with one win, three saves, a 3.38 ERA and a 20-8 strikeout-walk ratio.

All this is the best Akin's done-ever. At DuPont Manual High in Louisville, he was more noted for his hitting -and his play for the golf team- than his pitching. At Davidson College, he had to wait until his senior season before truly starting to display his talent.

His fast ball doesn't blow people away but he gets good movement and complements that with a strong slider. He's capable of coming in often without losing effectiveness.

He'll probably never get the notice that a Jonathan Broxton type gets. But please notice there are other ways to get the job done- and Akin is doing just that.

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