WMU’s Akin gets $1.17M; three MSU draft picks going pro

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Keegan Akin, the 54th overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles, told The News on Tuesday night he has agreed to a slot-value deal worth $1,177,200.

Western Michigan’s Keegan Akin is about to become a millionaire, and three Michigan State baseball players drafted last week have decided to turn professional, as well.

Akin, the 54th overall pick by the Baltimore Orioles, told The News on Tuesday night he has agreed to a slot-value deal worth $1,177,200. He flies to Baltimore on Monday for a physical, and then will officially sign his contract and head off to Single-A ball.

Akin, a junior, was 7-4 this season with a 1.82 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 109 innings, helping the Broncos to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1989. He won two games in the Mid-American Conference tournament, earning MVP honors, as Western Michigan secured a surprise bid into the NCAAs.

Meanwhile, at Michigan State, red-shirt junior left-handed pitcher Cam Vieaux, junior infielder Jordan Zimmerman and red-shirt sophomore right-hander Dakota Mekkes have concluded their college careers.

MSU coach Jake Boss said Vieaux and Zimmerman have signed their contracts, while Mekkes is expected to do so in the coming day or two.

It’s quite a big loss for the Spartans — Vieaux was their ace, Zimmerman their best hitter, and Mekkes their stud closer.

“We had prepared for those three to go,” Boss said. “I’m happy for them.”

Vieax, drafted in the sixth round, 195th overall, by the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Zimmerman, drafted in the seventh round, 216th overall, by the Los Angeles Angels, were expected to get around slot-value money. For Vieaux, that’s $238,600, and for Zimmerman, that’s $195,200.

Mekkes, drafted in the 10th round, 314th overall, was expected to get more than slot-value money. Slot for that pick is $156,600.

Vieaux was 7-4 with a 2.28 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 87 innings.

Zimmerman, a junior-college transfer, had no issue adapting to the Big Ten, as he batted .374/.461/.594 with nine homers, 37 RBIs and 10 steals.

Mekkes had a 1.74 ERA, 96 strikeouts and a .142 opponents’ batting average in 57 innings. He allowed just 26 hits and had seven saves.

A fourth Spartan drafted, junior catcher Matt Byars, is expected to return for his senior season. He was drafted in the 24th round by the Minnesota Twins.

Michigan State was 36-20 this season, with a strong start that got the Spartans in the Baseball America top 25 multiple times. But they faded down the stretch and were eliminated in the Big Ten tournament semifinals, costing them a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Five Michigan players were drafted, and three are expected to sign shortly, coach Erik Bakich said — junior lefty Brett Adcock (fourth round, 127th overall, Houston Astros), junior lefty Carmen Benedetti (12th round, 367th overall, Astros) and senior lefty Evan Hill (24th round, 715th overall, Tigers).

“I talked to them after the draft and I know they are all looking forward to starting their professional careers,” Bakich said.