Orioles pitching prospect Cody Sedlock knew something was wrong during the 2018 season when his index finger would turn cold after he pitched. He had been dealing with what he had been told was a shoulder strain, but the cold finger and recurring blisters indicated that something else was wrong.
The problem, it turned out, was thoracic outlet syndrome, a compression of nerves in the shoulder area that can cause numbness. Many big-name pitchers have undergone thoracic outlet surgery during recent years, such as Kenny Rogers, Josh Beckett and Matt Harvey, along with current Orioles Alex Cobb and Nate Karns. For Sedlock -- the Orioles' first-round pick in the 2016 draft -- it was both a setback and an opportunity.
"Everyone has their journey, and everyone is going to have a bump in the road," Sedlock told
Glenn Clark Radio
April 5. "For me, it definitely put things in perspective. It kind of just cancels out all the pressure and the expectations, and it kind of helped me realize who is truly on my side and who truly still believes in me."
Sedlock was coming off a 2017 season in which he struggled for High-A Frederick, posting a 5.90 ERA in 20 starts. He admitted he felt the anxiety of trying to live up to first-round expectations while not feeling totally healthy on the mound.
"It's definitely distressing when all you want to do is play baseball and you're not able to do that -- and when you are able to do that, it's with pain and you're not as strong as you have been in the past," Sedlock said.
After a winter of rehab and strength training, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Sedlock said he is feeling better than he ever has. Sedlock is back with the Keys this year.
"I feel completely healthy right now, and for the first time in a long time after an outing I'm able to, the next day, be like, 'Alright, I could throw today,'" he said. "It's not, 'I can't lift my arm, it hurts when I lift it up.'"
A fresh, healthy start to the 2019 season is just what Sedlock said he needed to get his career back on track. Fangraphs listed Sedlock as the organization's No. 2 prospect heading into the 2017 season, but the injury and poor performance combined to knock him completely off Fangraphs' preseason Orioles prospect list this year.
Sedlock knows that, at 23 years old (he will turn 24 in June), he needs to pitch well to get back on a major league track. But after an injury-riddled 2018, he is more focused on the day-to-day aspect of pitching.
"Absolutely, I want to mow through Frederick," Sedlock said. "But I'm taking it with a different mindset where I'm not looking towards the next level; I'm looking toward, 'What can I do today to make that happen?'
"I'm focused on my day that I start every single day and going out there and doing everything that I can control. It's something that I have kind of dwelled on in the past, but I can't control what happens to me outside what I do on the mound."
One advantage that Sedlock will have this year is the philosophy and mentoring of the organization's new regime. New general manager Mike Elias brought along Chris Holt, who followed Elias from the Astros organization, as the new minor league pitching coordinator.
Holt and the rest of the minor league staff have helped familiarize the players with TrackMan, the tracking system that measures everything on a baseball field from exit velocity to spin rates.
"He's sat down with all the TrackMan data with every individual pitcher. It's been great learning how to pitch using that and just having a better plan than going out there and guessing," Sedlock said. "We're taking out all of the guesswork when it comes to pitching and figuring out what works and stick with it."
Sedlock is excited about the philosophical changes and opportunities given to some of the team's younger players as part of the major league team's rebuild. At the same time, however, he doesn't want to start looking too far down the road again.
"I'm just taking it as I've taken my whole life -- I'm just playing the game," Sedlock said. "It's been a nice breath of fresh air, just taking it day-by-day instead of looking so far into the future."
For more from Sedlock, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox