The Road to The Show™: DL Hall
Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken to reach the brink of realizing his Major League dream. Here's a look at Baltimore Orioles left-hander DL Hall. For more player journeys on The Road to The Show, click here. One of the most direct ways
Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken to reach the brink of realizing his Major League dream. Here's a look at Baltimore Orioles left-hander
One of the most direct ways to accelerate a successful rebuild is to hit on high Draft picks, and the top of the Orioles’ prospect rankings shows Baltimore is on its way to doing just that. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick,
Slotting in at No. 4 is DL Hall, taken out of Valdosta (Georgia) High School at No. 21 overall in 2017. MLB.com’s No. 74 overall prospect has since climbed one level of the Minors in each of his three professional seasons. The southpaw was in line for an assignment to Double-A Bowie to start 2020. That didn’t happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic, of course, but Hall is still training in Bowie as part of the Orioles’ alternate training camp. A promotion to the Majors is unlikely but not impossible, given the ever-changing nature of baseball in 2020.
2017 (Rookie-level GCL Orioles)
Hall's debut summer was an extreme indicator of how cautious the Orioles would be with the prized left-hander. It spanned only 10 1/3 innings over five abbreviated August starts in the Gulf Coast League. The first two went well: Hall allowed one hit and an unearned run across four frames, walking four and striking out two.
The final three outings for the then-18-year-old weren’t as smooth. He surrendered two earned runs in back-to-back starts before failing to get out of the first inning in his last game. Hall walked three and gave up four earned runs on four hits, having recorded two outs. He did, however, whiff six batters in his penultimate start.
2018 (Class A Delmarva)
The Orioles still took things slowly with Hall during his first full season. He didn’t throw more than three innings until his fifth start and did not surpass five innings until the end of May, one of four such instances in 22 appearances.
Still, the results started to trickle in for Hall in the South Atlantic League. He owned a 1.69 ERA at the end of April, albeit through 10 2/3 innings. On May 13 at Columbia, he cruised through five one-hit innings, striking out three and walking one in what was his longest career outing to that point. After allowing five runs on nine hits and two walks in 4 1/3 frames against Charleston on June 2, he rebounded to give up just one run over his next six outings combined. The highlight of that stretch came on July 5, when Hall struck out seven across 5 2/3 hitless innings.
The firsts piled up. His next time out, Hall established career highs with six scoreless innings and eight strikeouts in his first win as a pro.
"It's fun to be in a groove like this," he told MiLB.com. "I've just been building my confidence up since the beginning of the season through tonight. That's what has been the biggest key for me this season: being confident in my stuff, going out there and competing. There's definitely some luck sprinkled in, but that goes for everyone in our sport."
Hall’s punchout totals in his next two starts were 10 and nine, respectively. He made five more starts before season’s end and allowed no more than one earned run in each, which was the case for all 13 of his appearances after that June 2 setback. Hall ended the year with a 2.10 ERA, 3.67 FIP, 25.6 percent strikeout rate and 10.7 percent walk rate over 94 1/3 innings.
2019 (Class A Advanced Frederick)
Hall came out of the spring lacking command, and it showed in inconsistent results to begin the season in the Carolina League. He walked nine batters over his first 10 innings. Things cleared up for him in his fourth start, a five-inning gem in which the southpaw allowed one hit and one walk while striking out eight. But he walked four his next time out, failing to get through the fourth inning against Wilmington on May 2.
On May 23, Hall matched a career high with 10 strikeouts in five scoreless innings. Two weeks later, he issued six free passes in four innings against Down East. He repeated the undesirable career high two weeks after that. The walks were problematic, yet Hall avoided allowing more than four runs in any of his 19 appearances that season.
The second half of the season showed how command will be key for Hall in harnessing his impressive stuff. His fastball has touched 97 mph and he has plus pitches in a changeup and lively curveball. After a 1-2-3 inning at the All-Star Futures Game, he returned to Frederick and recorded 36 strikeouts in his final five starts, including 10 on Aug. 1 at Myrtle Beach.
A strained left lat forced the Orioles to shut down Hall, with his final start coming on Aug. 8. With the premature end to his season and Baltimore maintaining a tight leash, he threw only 80 2/3 innings on the year. He finished with a 3.46 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 33.5 percent strikeout rate and 15.6 percent walk rate.
Having yet to throw 100 innings in a season or appear at Double-A, Hall would appear to have little chance at pitching in Baltimore this year. His spot in the Orioles' player pool, though, presents an opportunity to continue refining his command during his age-21 season.
Joe Bloss is a contributor for MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @jtbloss.