Baseball America recently made some adjustments to the bottom of its latest top 100 prospects list. A couple of prospects graduated, meaning they no longer have major league rookie eligibility. So BA added two players to the bottom of the list, and one was Orioles pitching prospect DL Hall.
The club’s No. 1 draft choice in 2017, Hall enters at No. 100. This gives the Orioles four in the top 100, with outfielder Yusniel Díaz No. 44, outfielder Austin Hays No. 58 and infielder Ryan Mountcastle No. 59.
The No. 21 overall pick last June out of a Georgia high school, the left-handed Hall has shown a fastball that often sits between 92 and 94 mph and touches 95 and 96, along with a curve, slider and changeup. Hall threw 94 1/3 innings for the year at Single-A Delmarva. He pitched six innings in a game only twice, and threw more than 80 pitches in a game only three times.
But the Orioles were not going to give the youngster too many innings to handle coming off his senior year of high school, where he threw about 60-70 innings. He then added a few in the Gulf Coast League in 2017 after signing. He approached 100 innings this year and will be set up to push that further for 2019, when he very likely will begin the season with Single-A Frederick with the potential to move up during the year.
Hall went 2-7 with a 2.10 ERA in 22 games for Delmarva. He walked 42, fanned 100 and held opponents to a .203 batting average. He allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last 13 starts since June 10, pitching to an 0.89 ERA.
In a late-season interview, Hall told me that his curveball, once considered his best secondary pitch, is not that anymore. He struggled with it at times in 2018, while his changeup made big gains.
“My curveball, I’ve had some adjustments with it and still trying to get the feel for that pitch,” Hall said. “So my curveball is still a work in progress. Had to start over a little bit with it. But the changeup came along really, really well, and right now it’s my best secondary.”
He added that the pitch is a big reason that, while lefties hit just .246 against him, right-handed batters hit just .180 off the southpaw.
“Yeah, that is a huge reason,” Hall said. “My stats in previous years would be the exact opposite. I always love facing lefties and feel like I have an advantage over them with my curveball. But now that has flip-flopped with my changeup that puts pressure on the righties. And losing my curveball a bit has helped out the lefties. Once I get them both going together, maybe it can be something special.”
Hall’s finish to his 2018 season was something special, and he was pretty good throughout the year. This is likely the first of many top 100s he will appear in over the winter. And when BA resets its next top 100, Hall could move way up in those rankings.
O’s lose again: It’s been a frustrating weekend for the Orioles in the Bronx. They didn’t pitch well on Friday and lost. They did pitch well Saturday, but still lost. They’ve battled the playoff-bound Yankees to the final pitch, only to come away with 10-8 and 3-2 losses. Saturday’s defeat came via a walk-off double in the last of the 11th by Aaron Hicks, who also homered.
Right-hander David Hess gave the Orioles a decent enough start, allowing two runs over five innings. But four walks elevated his pitch count, which was 93. The O’s bullpen gave up just one run - the game ender - on three hits over 5 1/3 innings. Over the last seven games the Orioles bullpen has pitched to a 2.53 ERA.
Manager Buck Showalter made another head-scratcher move when he pinch-ran for DJ Stewart with John Andreoli in the 10th inning with Stewart already on third base. A fast runner pinch-ran for a fast runner. That took the hot-hitting Stewart out of the game. An inning later, Andreoli struck out in a 2-2 game to end the top of the 11th. Moments later, the Yankess were celebrating a walk-off win.
With lefty J.A. Happ starting today for the New Yorkers, there is probably only a 50-50 chance that Stewart gets the start this afternoon. Yet, over his past four games, he is 6-for-11 with two doubles, two homers and four RBIs.
The Orioles have now lost the first two games of their past five series. If they lose today, they will be swept in a series of three or more games for the 17th time. The Orioles have just one such series sweep of their own.