Meet the Baby Birds: DL Hall

DL Hall is pitching his way back to Baltimore
DL Hall is pitching his way back to Baltimore / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

Their were several surprises when the Baltimore Orioles showed up for spring training in 2023. A few new faces from acquisitions and and some from within the organization that were getting their first spring training invite. One of the surprises that got the most attention was DL Hall. Hall returned with the same great arm but a whole new look. Hall showed up with a high and tight new look and even a new jersey number (he wore 49 in 2022 and has dawned 24 in 2023).

Meet the Baby Birds: Left-handed pitcher DL Hall

DL Hall was drafted in the first round on the 2017 MLB draft by the Orioles, 21st overall, out of Valdosta Highschool. Mike Elias has traditionally preferred collegiate players but Hall was too good to pass up. Hall was a big, athletic left hander with a fastball in the 90's and a curveball that also projected as a plus pitch. The biggest knock on Hall at the time was his command and control. The Orioles new the stuff was there, they just find the right tweak to help Hall get that control.

Hall reported to the Gulf Coast League after being drafted and appeared in five games in rookie ball, all starts. Hall only pitched 10.1 innings in those starts but did manage 12 strikeouts. Hall also allowed eight earned runs and had 10 walks in those innings. Hall showed improved control in 2018 with the low-A Delmarva Shorebirds with a career low 4.0 BB/9 in 22 appearances (20 starts), but he also had a career low (but still very good) 9.5 K/9. Hall had a career best 2.10 ERA that season but only a 2-7 record to show for it.

DL continued his high strikeout totals in High-A with the then Orioles affiliate Frederick Keys before spending the 2020 season at the alternate site. In 2021 Hall reported to Double-A Bowie and showed that he didn't miss a beat. Hall had a career best 15.9 K/9, going 2-0 in seven appearances (all starts) with 4.5 BB/9 in the shortened season.

Hall spent most of the 2022 season with Triple-A Norfolk. With his pitches continuing to improve, Hall still managed 14.7 K/9, but the walks jumped up to 5.8 BB/9 in 22 appearances (18 starts). Hall pitched well enough that he got called up to the show. He did get to make one start for the Birds in 2022 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Hall pitched 3.2 innings and gave up five runs on five hits and took the loss in his major league debut before being sent back to Norfolk. He got called back to the Orioles in September and made 10 more appearances for the Birds out of the bullpen, even picking up his second professional save (his first was with the Frederick Keys).

2023 has seen more of the same from Hall as he continues to rack up the strikeouts pitching for the Norfolk Tides, while still working on his control. Hall has made eight starts this season, but only pitched 32.0 innings and has not earned a win on a Tides team that has dominated competition. He's still striking out opposing hitters at a prolific rate but the lack of control drives up his pitch count quickly. Hall did make a cameo with the Birds in 2023, pitching 3.0 innings in relief in Detroit, but the Orioles continue to say they believe Hall will be a starting pitcher.

It should be noted that Nolan Ryan, one of the greatest pitchers of all time, also had control issues. Ryan issued 4.7 BB/9 over his career, only slightly better than Hall's 5.0 BB/9, and Ryan's 9.5 K/9 is significantly lower than Hall's 12.6 K/9. I am not saying that DL Hall is the next Nolan Ryan, but Hall does have the kind of stuff worth waiting for. If Hall can gain a little more command over his pitches, he could turn into an elite level pitcher. He is only 24 years old and has plenty of time. Hall is currently the Orioles #5 prospect (#79 overall), and with Grayson Rodriguez being sent back down to Norfolk their is an opening in the Orioles rotation. Hall could be in Camden Yards before the all-star break.