At a time when the Orioles were last among all teams this year in Major League Baseball, they can at least say that one of their young pitchers ranked as the best in his league in 2018.
Baseball America released its list of the top 20 prospects in the Single-A South Atlantic League this season on Tuesday. Delmarva Shorebirds pitcher DL Hall was ranked No. 1. Hall was the Orioles’ first-round pick (No. 21 overall) in the 2017 draft out of a Georgia high school.
The 19-year-old lefty 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 over 94 1/3 innings. He allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last 13 starts after June 10, pitching to an 0.89 ERA.
Baseball America executive editor J.J. Cooper compiled the publication’s South Atlantic League list.
“When we asked which players stood out this year, Hall’s name came up consistently,” said Cooper. “It was not hard to figure out why. He was one of the younger pitchers in the league. And in the second half, especially In August, he was the best pitcher in the league.
“He’s an athletic left-hander with a swing-and-miss fastball, a potentially swing-and-miss changeup and a curveball that can be a very viable third pitch. You put the three of them together and add in his athleticism (and) he has everything you’re looking for in a young pitcher.
“Now, as a young pitcher, there are a lot of potential pitfalls and potholes that can rise along the way. But he is a potential front-of-the-rotation starter and he showed that this year. This is everything you can ask for in a ... young left-hander with plus stuff.”
The Orioles limited Hall’s innings and pitch counts during his first full professional season. He threw more than 80 pitches just three times. But he got better as the year went on and lived up to all reasonable expectations - and then some - in 2018.
“You can’t expect - you can hope - that just because a pitcher was a first-round pick, that he will dominate the South Atlantic League,” Cooper said. “We’ve seen a lot of examples recently where that is not the case. It is pretty significant if you can go out and dominate low Class A in your first full pro season. He checked off all the boxes. It shows he is on the right trajectory.”
Cooper said he fully expects Hall to be ranked in the next new top 100 prospects list to be released over the winter. With just one full year under his belt, he may be in the second half of the top 100 right now. Hall is also a strong candidate to be ranked as the Orioles’ No. 1 prospect heading into the 2019 season.
The Orioles did not have any other players from Delmarva that were close to cracking the South Atlantic League top 20, said Cooper. That included pitcher Brenan Hanifee, who went 8-6 with a 2.86 ERA that rated fourth-best in the league, and lefty Cameron Bishop, who went 9-7 with an ERA of 2.94 that was fifth.
Lefty Zac Lowther had six dominant outings early this season in the South Atlantic League, going 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA, but he didn’t have enough innings to quality for the league top 20. He did in the Carolina League and Cooper said Lowther was under solid consideration for the top 20 in that league but didn’t make it.
Here is a look at where other O’s prospects have ranked so far among those league top 20 lists that have been released by Baseball America.
Two players the Orioles acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the trade for Manny Machado were ranked in league top 20s. But those were in the leagues they played in before the trades. Outfielder Yusniel Díaz was the No. 5 prospect in the Double-A Texas League. Right-handed pitcher Dean Kremer was No. 15 in the Single-A California League.
Click here to check out a story on Hall I wrote before his final start of this season. Hall talked about his big season. Click here to see the Baseball America top 20 for the South Atlantic League and click here for Cooper’s chat with readers (subscriptions may be required).
Boston is the favorite: The online sports book Bovada.com listed these odds yesterday to win the 2018 World Series. The odds were released before last night’s National League wild card game.
Boston Red Sox - 3/1
Houston Astros - 13/4
Los Angeles Dodgers - 6/1
Cleveland Indians - 9/1
Milwaukee Brewers - 9/1
Atlanta Braves - 11/1
New York Yankees - 11/1
Chicago Cubs - 14/1
Oakland Athletics - 14/1
Colorado Rockies - 18/1
My pick to win the World Series is Houston. I think the Houston-Cleveland series will be great to watch, but that Houston will win that series and more on its way to another championship. If they get it, Houston would become the first repeat World Series winner since the Yankees took three in a row from 1998-2000.