Orioles pitching prospect DL Hall has dazzled his coaches with a fastball that approaches 100 miles per hour.
Now, he is showing the type of overall command with his changeup and breaking ball that should eventually pave the way to the major league club.
After a year-long layoff because of Covid-19, the 22-year-old left-hander made his debut for Double-A Bowie on May 4th and struck out 10 while allowing just two hits in 4 ⅓ innings in a 2-1 victory over Altoona.
He gave up just two walks — an area of focus throughout the spring. Entering this season, Hall had allowed 5.1 career walks per nine innings in his minor-league career.
Hall will pitch the home opener for Bowie against Reading at 6:35 on Tuesday at Prince George’s Stadium.
“Coming in after a lot of walks in the 2019 season at Frederick, this year I wanted to come in and focus on pounding the strike zone and not giving up free bases,” Hall said. “That was a big thing for me. It was really just more mental cues to help me to get to that, and trusting my stuff, and I feel like I made big strides with that.
“In spring training, I think I had three walks all of camp. I’ve made some minor tweaks, nothing too crazy, just some things to time everything up. Not really mechanical or changing anything, just working on getting everything timed up better. And getting that rhythm and flow more consistently. That was big to work on that and find a consistent rhythm.”
The Orioles selected Hall with the 21st overall pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft from Valdosta High School in Georgia. He was named the No. 1 prospect in the South Atlantic League by Baseball America after the 2018 season.
In 2019, Hall led Class A-Advanced Frederick with 116 strikeouts, leading the Carolina League in strikeouts per nine innings (12.94). He was selected to participate in the 2019 All-Star Futures Game in Cleveland.
Entering this season, Hall is the No. 4 prospect in the Orioles’ organization — behind catcher Adley Rutschman, pitcher Grayson Rodriguez and outfielder Heston Kjerstad. Hall headlines a talented group of pitchers at Bowie that includes Kyle Bradish, Kevin Smith and Cody Sedlock, the Orioles’ top pick in 2016.
Despite his growth as a pitcher, Hall is not worried about the timeline to get to the majors.
“I’m just going to go out and pitch to the best of my ability, show everybody who DL Hall is and, hopefully, that’s enough to open some eyes and make some things happen,” Hall said. “Wherever they end up sending me, I’m going to show everybody what I’m about.”.
Hall also has caught the attention of his teammates and works well with Rutschman, who also started the season at Bowie. The potential battery of Hall and Rutschman in the majors has provided a boost of optimism for the rebuilding club.
“He’s a stud pitcher,” Rutschman said about Hall. “I think we’ve seen that he’s always got the stuff and as he continues to refine himself mentally and physically, being able to understand himself better, you can just see the confidence that comes with that. So I’m really excited to be able to catch him this year and be able to continue to work with him.”
Hall also enjoys working with Rutschman. The two, who spent time together last summer at the alternate training site at Bowie, have developed a rapport and trust.
“He makes average pitchers look really good,” Hall said. “That’s a huge thing to have somebody back there that makes you really comfortable on the mound and gives you confidence just with his body language. It’s been great getting to work with him, and I’m excited to have him behind the plate for me this year.”
Bowie manager Buck Britton, the brother of former Orioles closer Zack Britton, has some history with Hall. Britton was the manager of Single-A Delmarva in 2018 when Hall compiled a 2.10 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 22 games, including 20 starts.
“This kid has really matured,” Britton said. “That is the biggest thing that jumps off the page for me. And I’m not talking about being a young kid and growing up. Just as a pitcher. It used to be, ‘Here is my fireball.’ Breaking ball was inconsistent, changeup was just being developed last time I saw him. This guy came into camp with a different mindset. This guy looks really good.”