A big season comes to an end for a highly-touted Baltimore Orioles prospect.
Close the book on the 2019 season for Baltimore Orioles left-handed pitching prospect DL Hall. Per MASN.com’s Roch Kubatko, the Frederick Keys starting pitcher and third-ranked prospect in the Orioles system (62nd overall) has been shut down for the rest of the minor league season with a left lat strain.
As pointed out by Kubatko, the injury is considered a mild, Grade 1 strain that isn’t serious, but is enough to go ahead and shut him down for the final two weeks of the season. An appearance in the Arizona Fall League is apparently not out of the question. We find out which Baltimore Orioles prospects will make the trip to this prestigious offseason experience shortly.
Hall, 20, made 17 starts in Frederick this season (19 total appearances), working to a 4-5 record and 3.46 ERA. Logging 80.2 innings, Hall limited opponents to a .189 average and struck out 116 Carolina League hitters, 33.5% of the hitters he faced in 2019.
While all of those numbers are very impressive for a such a young pitcher in Advanced-A ball, the most notable number on Hall’s stat line is three. More than half of his 80+ innings came at Harry Grove Stadium, a noted hitter’s park where balls tend to fly out at an above-average rate. Hall allowed just three home runs in total, two of them in 45 innings at home.
Hall kept the ball in the ball park, despite a significant drop in his groundball rate (down to 35% compared to his 2018 season with the Delmarva Shorebirds), hitters proved unable to square up his electric stuff on the mound.
If you weren’t able to catch a DL Hall start this season, you missed quite a show. A true competitor on the mound, Hall has the stuff and the makeup to be an effective piece to a future Baltimore Orioles starting rotation. Now working with four pitches, including a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and avoids barrels and a selection of breaking pitches to keep hitters off-balanced, guessing, and often swinging wildly, Hall will likely begin the 2020 season as must-watch entertainment in Double-A Bowie.
Nathan Ruiz of The Baltimore Sun recently took a trip down to Frederick to catch a DL Hall start and talked with the Orioles prospect about his season, specifically his performance since competing in the MLB Future’s Game during the major league All-Star break.
"“The first half of this year was probably the worst half of baseball I’ve had in maybe my whole career, and it was tough to see that. But to come back in the second half and just keep grinding and pushing and helping my team as much as I could was my biggest goal, just not give up and just keep pushing forward.”"
If 65 strikeouts in 39 innings and a .231 batting average against with one home run allowed is Hall’s worst half of his career, strap in and enjoy one hell of a ride.
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The black mark on Hall’s season, especially in the first half, was his command. Despite increasing his strikeout rate from 9.54 K/9 IP to 12.94 K/9 IP this year, Hall also increased his walk rate from 4.01 BB/9 IP to 6.02 BB/9 IP. More advanced and patient hitters in the Carolina League weren’t going to swing at Hall’s stuff out of the zone like more hitters did in the lower minors, leading to a big increase in walks allowed.
Clearly a point to watch closely moving forward, Hall was one of the youngest players in the Carolina League and will likely be one of the youngest players in the Eastern League next season. There’s plenty of time for Hall and the organization to find a solution, so don’t let this number overshadow the dominant campaign Hall had in 2019.
Hopefully we see Hall in the Arizona League, but if not, Bowie isn’t very far away and all 140 of their games can be seen on MiLB TV. Expect a massive dose of DL Hall in 2020.