Don’t be fooled by a 6.97 ERA for the kid. That came in just 10 1/3 innings in five August outings in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League for left-hander DL Hall. The Orioles selected Hall with their first pick in June in the draft. He was taken with the 21st pick in the First-Year Player Draft and signed to a $3 million bonus.
Hall, who turned 19 on Sept. 19, was selected from Valdosta (Ga.) High School. He pitched to a 1.36 ERA this season with 105 strikeouts over 51 1/3 innings for Valdosta.
Hall attended the recent Orioles instructional league workouts that ended Oct. 10 and O’s director of player development Brian Graham was impressed.
“He had a very good instructional league and for him it was about developing his breaking ball and changeup and being consistent with his delivery,” Graham said of Hall. “I would say he accomplished all of those things. He has a nice delivery and he shows plus velocity. I think both the breaking ball and changeup are behind right now, but he probably didn’t need to use those pitches much in high school.
“Those pitches can improve both from the quality of the pitch to the command. Both just need to make strides and get better, which will come through repetition and experience. But you can see the makings of good pitches there. He’s a got a good feel for the baseball and his delivery is solid.”
Graham took a moment to emphasize another point about Hall.
“Let me also tell you this about DL Hall: His makeup is outstanding,” Graham said. “That was a question I had read going into the draft in a few different places. But his makeup and work ethic were excellent. He is a good kid.”
The Orioles’ second round pick in June, taken No. 60 overall, was prep shortstop Adam Hall out of A.B. Lucas Secondary School in Ontario, Canada. Adam Hall is no relation to DL and he played just two games in the GCL in July due to an abdominal strain. He went 6-for-9 with a double and triple. He showed he was healthy during instructs workouts.
“He is 100 percent healthy and was making up for lost playing time there. He showed some nice athleticism and played well on defense. He just needs more experience against pro level competition,” Graham said.
The Orioles’ fifth-round pick from the class of 2017 caught Graham’s eye in Florida. That is 19-year-old outfielder Lamar Sparks from Katy, Texas. A righty batter, he hit .241 in the GCL, batting .347 versus lefty pitchers and .188 against right-handers. Sparks showed solid tools, especially on defense, and he is a slighty-above average runner.
“I really like Sparks, the young center fielder, and he had a good instructional league,” Graham said. “He is a young kid that started to understand some of the concepts of hitting, defense, baserunning. I like his athleticism, body and natural instincts and his swing. There is a lot to like about him.
“He’s going to be a solid-average defender. He’s going to cover ground and he’s going to throw solid-average and do what you need a center fielder to do. At instructs, he got better on defense and it was a carryover from the Gulf Coast League. We worked on his reaction to the ball off the bat and his throwing mechanics.”
Graham indicated Sparks’ offense may grade a bit less than his defense right, now but he loves his swing and sees plenty to work with and room for growth on offense for Sparks.
The Orioles’ 2016 top draft pick, right-handed pitcher Cody Sedlock, spent time at instructional league rehabbing and watching video. Even without throwing a ball, he made some adjustments. And Graham said Sedlock is going to be fine for next season.
Sedlock spent time from July 1-22 on the Single-A Frederick DL with a right elbow flexor strain. He ended the season on the DL again with a right forearm strain. He went 4-5 with a 5.90 ERA for the Keys after pitching to an ERA of 1.64 his first four starts.
“He didn’t throw at instructional league, but he rehabbed,” Graham said. “We went through videotapes from back in college, in Aberdeen and from this year at Frederick. I think he feels really good about where he is at with his delivery. We did a lot of dry work and a lot of mental work.
“He got back to what he was doing in college and it had to do with separating his hands and his arm action. He made some adjustments with our pitching coaches. He is healthy and ready to go (for 2018).”
Meanwhile, left-hander Keegan Akin is pitching very well right now in the Arizona Fall League. Akin also ended the year on Frederick’s DL with a pulled oblique muscle. Akin went 7-8 with a 4.14 ERA over 21 starts and 100 innings for Frederick. He pitched to a 0.90 ERA in five June starts.
But for Salt River in the AFL, Akin is 1-1 with an ERA of 1.46 in seven games. Over 12 1/3 innings, he has allowed six hits with three walks and 12 strikeouts. Lefty batters are just 1-for-16 (.063) against him, while right-handed hitters are batting .185 at 5-for-27.
“I saw Akin pitch and he threw extremely well,” said Graham. “He commanded his fastball. He calls it a slider, I call it a curveball, but it was a plus pitch. His changeup was real good and he pitched inside with his four-seamer. What Akin has done out there has been really impressive. It’s the best we’ve seen him.”