Orioles pitching prospect DL Hall, 20, continues to play to strong reviews for his very solid 2018 season. While his record was just 2-7, his ERA was 2.10 ERA in 22 games for Single-A Delmarva. Hall allowed no more than one earned run in each of his last 13 starts after June 10, pitching to an 0.89 ERA.
After the season, Hall was ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the South Atlantic League by Baseball America. The publication ranked Hall as the No. 2 Orioles prospect behind outfielder Yusniel Díaz. MLBPipeline.com ranks Hall No. 3 on the O’s list behind Díaz and Ryan Mountcastle. A case could made for Hall at No. 1.
Hall was taken with the No. 21 overall pick in round one of the 2017 draft out of a Georgia high school. He was signed to a $3 million bonus.
A scout sent a note with his personal top list of pitchers he had seen this year and rated Hall No. 8 on his list, ahead of lefty Justus Sheffield, a former top Yankees prospect that has been a Baseball America top 100 prospect three times. Sheffield was traded Nov. 19 from New York to Seattle in the deal that sent pitcher James Paxton to the Bronx.
The scout says of Hall: “Has a quick, big league arm with solid secondary stuff. He has an idea (how to pitch), but he needs to tighten up command, (but there is) big upside. Top pitching prospect for Baltimore. HIs fastball ranges 91 to 96 mph, sitting often around 93.”
Here is what executive editor J.J. Cooper of Baseball America told me about Hall earlier this offseason:
“When we asked which players stood out this year, Hall’s name came up consistently. 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.”
Does Hall have it all? No way we should ever say that about any pitcher that young. But his combination of stuff, smarts and a real passion to get better will land him on most, maybe all, of the new top 100 lists when they come out this winter.
For more on Hall, check out this profile with the pitcher from late August.
Not for the Orioles: Former Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton, who was non-tendered Friday, is now a free agent, able to sign with any team. Hamilton’s outstanding defense and speed should make him attractive to at least a few teams and there was a time when the Orioles might have been one of them. The O’s have lacked strong outfield defense and speed in recent years. But Hamilton sure doesn’t seem a fit for a rebuidling Orioles team that features several young outfielders that have either made the majors or are well on the way.
After stealing at least 56 bases every year from 2014-2017, Hamilton stole just 34 times last year and was caught 10 times. But you can’t steal first base and Hamilton’s poor bat makes his addition probably questionable for many teams.
Hamilton hit .247/.299/.335 in 2017 and last season posted similar numbers at .236/.299/.327. He is a career .245 hitter with an OBP of .298 and an OPS of .631. That is well below average.
Hamilton might be able to help a contender as an extra outfielder and his speed and defense would sure help many teams late in games. But his days as an everyday leadoff hitter may already be over. Of course if he can improve on his offense, he’d be a nice addition for most. He just doesn’t fit on the 2019 Orioles, even with his glove and speed.