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Orioles prospect season in review: DL Hall

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The 21-year-old lefty is one of the most exciting arms in the Orioles farm system right now.

MLB: All Star Game-Futures Game
DL Hall, doing his thing at the All Star Futures Game in July
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

A first-round pick for the Birds in 2017 (21st overall) out of Valdosta, Georgia, DL Hall had a strong 2018, and he’s just getting better. His 2018 line with Delmarva: 2.10 ERA, 1.166 WHIP with 100 strikeouts and 42 walks in 94 1/3 innings. This year, at High-A Frederick, Hall had a 3.46 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP with 54 walks in 80.2 innings before getting shut down for the last few weeks with a lat strain.

The ERA and the walks were a little on the high side this season, but so, then again, were the positives. Hall gave up just 53 hits and three home runs all season, and he struck out a league-leading 116.

That last stat, in case you hadn’t noticed, makes Hall a strikeout machine. For reference, Fangraphs considers a K/9 rate of 10.0 top of the line, Excellent. Hall’s K/9 rate this year was a ridiculous 12.94.

Fangraphs considers him one of the Orioles’ “higher ceiling prospects,” above guys like Keegan Akin and Zac Lowther, and in the company of electric righty Grayson Rodriguez. Hall is currently the Orioles’ No. 3 prospect (outranked only by Rodriguez and some guy named Adley Rutschman), and No. 60 on MLB’s Top 100 Prospects list (one other Oriole is on that list right now: 1B Ryan Mountcastle).

He’s got an arm that excites people. The MLB touts Hall’s maturity, his simple and repeatable delivery, and his ability to “find his release point with each pitch,” all signs he could develop above-average command. They’re high on Hall’s plus fastball, which touches 96 with late life, and view the curveball as above average but with the ability to flash plus, especially given that his high spin rate gives it late bite. The changeup is a latecomer to this group, but the scouts say Hall has made significant improvements on it, this probably having to do with the new analytical regime emphasizing spin rate, which gives the pitch some fading action.

MLB gives the fastball a grade of 60, the curveball 55, the changeup 55, and his control 45, good for an overall score of 55. (Fangraphs scores the fastball 55/60, the curveball 55/60, the changeup 50/55, Hall’s command 40/50, and his future value 50.)

If you recall, back in August, Dan Connolly interviewed a major league scout to get his unvarnished take on a bunch of Orioles prospects. The anonymous scout, who was no pushover when it came to arms like Dean Kremer and Cody Sedlock, had this to say about Hall:

He’s at the top of my list in their system. Three plus pitches at times, when he can command them. He has a cocky confidence to go with his ability. He doesn’t have any fear. When I saw him at the Futures Game, he walked out there like he belonged. That’s always impressive to see. He has a projectable, plus fastball, 92-96 mph, and a projectable, plus curveball. … I have him as a No. 3 with some upside. Maybe he’ll be a little bit better, but at least a No. 3.

In fact, the MLB scouting report’s biggest concern about Hall was that, with the O’s keeping him “on a tight leash” during his first two seasons, his climb through the minors might be slowed down.

Well, Hall is certainly on people’s radars now, if he wasn’t already. This season, along with Grayson Rodriguez, Hall earned a trip to the MLB All-Star Futures Game, where he pitched one scoreless inning—and demonstrated some flashy footwork while avoiding a shattered bat that flew his way. The fastball topped out at 97.9 mph during that outing.

Here’s Hall at work in that game. You can see the laidback, almost relaxed delivery and the easy velocity.

After dominating Frederick hitters in High-A ball, it seems a sure thing that Hall will start next season with Double-A Bowie. After that, a callup to the big leagues is highly possible (although MLB’s Prospect Watch has Hall’s MLB ETA as 2021).

Either way, Hall remains a marquee name in an Orioles pitching system that’s lately been able to add new talent and depth, and is benefiting from a new analytics-oriented coaching and development regime. Out of all the prospects to look forward to in the next handful of years, DL Hall stands out among the best of them.