One of the big questions for the Orioles as they hang around in the AL wild card race is whether any of their top prospects in Triple-A will be added into the roster mix to try to make a push. On Friday afternoon, there was some news, as The Baltimore Sun’s Andy Kostka reported that D.L. Hall is expected to start Saturday night’s game against the Rays.
Update: Following Friday’s win over the Rays, manager Brandon Hyde announced officially that Hall will be making the Saturday afternoon start. The formal roster move will be announced on Saturday.
Kostka’s report followed one from MASN’s Roch Kubatko a bit earlier in the afternoon, who was the first to catch on that Hall is joining the Orioles in St. Petersburg.
Hall last pitched on August 7, when he struck out eight batters in a 5.2 inning outing against the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. The lefty, who is already on the Orioles 40-man roster, is one of the game’s top pitching prospects; a recent update to the FanGraphs prospect list had him at #22 in the game. There are tasty morsels in the scouting capsule:
Ultra-competitive, athletic southpaws with this kind of stuff are very rare. Hall has incredible arm speed and his fastball has flat, bat-missing angle. Only two big league lefty starters threw harder than Hall in 2019 (he averaged 95 mph), and he enjoyed a two-tick velo bump to start last season and was sitting an incredible 97 mph before shutting things down. His slider also became more distinct from his curveball in 2021, averaging about 4 mph more than his curve. Both breaking balls are death to left-handed hitters ...
The 23-year-old Hall was the Orioles first round pick in the 2017 draft. He’s been pitching all season at Triple-A Norfolk, where he has pulled off a phenomenal strikeout rate of 36% across 70 innings of work. That’s great! What’s less great are some other numbers, which is why I led with the strikeout rate. He’s walked 44 batters in those 70 IP, which is less than ideal for achieving success. That’s probably why his ERA is 4.76 and WHIP is 1.486.
As much as the Orioles have had some better-than-expected results from their rotation, they haven’t had a big-time strikeout pitcher in there this season. The best K/9 of any of the regular starting pitchers on the team right now is Kyle Bradish’s 9.0. Hall at Triple-A has a 14.6. It is not hard to get excited about that, even if the walk rate is there to temper the excitement somewhat.
The other exciting thing is simply that Hall’s arrival is one more sign that the Orioles are trying to put their best possible MLB roster forward over the final 51 games. Whether Hall stays in the rotation or ends up pitching out of the bullpen, he’s absolutely better than the worst pitcher currently hanging around on the roster. He brings something to the team that they don’t have without him - and that not many other teams have either.
Saturday’s game is going to really be one to watch, with AL Cy Young candidate Shane McClanahan - Baltimore’s own, if you haven’t heard - already set to pitch for the Rays. Now Hall will be debuting for the Orioles. Let’s hope that’s going to set up the kind of fireworks that will leave O’s fans happy at the end of the game.