BOWIE, Md. – For the second week in a row on the farm today, Birdland was treated to a battery that we could see in the big leagues as soon as later this year. Catcher Adley Rutschman, the top overall pick in the 2019 draft, caught lefty DL Hall, the Birds' top pick from 2017 as Double-A Bowie hosted Harrisburg.
And Hall was dominant at times, although his final line will show two runs that scored after he left the game.
He had several pitches touch 99 mph and a few reach triple digits. It was a treat for fans at Prince George’s Stadium, including a large group of school kids, that were on hand for the 11:05 a.m. start. They got to see two top 100 prospects at pitcher and catcher for the home team and the Orioles' No. 1 and No. 3 prospects per Baseball America.
After the game, the Orioles confirmed Rutschman and Hall will move up to Triple-A Norfolk on Friday, joining the Tides in Nashville. Rutschman will be in the lineup tomorrow.
Hall, 23, threw 3 2/3 innings allowing three hits and the two runs with one walk and six strikeouts. He truly dazzled early on, fanning six batters the first time through the Harrisburg lineup as he faced a 13-10 team that is third in the Eastern League in runs scored.
Hall has had many dominant outings on the farm before and said today ranked right up there for him.
"Tough to say, but I think it was definitely top notch in my personal opinion," he said. "Just because my focus on commanding the zone and to have a good strike ratio is huge for me. Another thing is I’m feeling healthy, so 10 out of 10 for that.
“My main focus right now is to go out and feel healthy and get through the outings and feel like I’m recovering well. Mainly just focusing on my health and you know just continue to show that command isn’t an issue. You hear that a lot and that’s something that I’ve really prided myself in working on and put a lot of work into, so I’m just excited to be healthy."
Hall indeed did pound the strike zone relentlessly, missing with just two of the 21 pitches he needed to get the first six outs. And one of those "balls" was actually a pitch clock violation.
He got strikeouts on all his pitches – on a slider and 99 mph heater in the first, on a changeup and fastball in the second, and on a slider and curveball in the third. It was all on point for him.
“I think it’s a great feeling always when all your stuff is working and it’s all through the zone," said Hall. "It’s a great feeling. It’s something that I put a lot of thought into, a lot of work into this offseason. I’m just excited to keep showing it."
He was dealing in his return to Bowie where he last pitched on June 12, 2021. Not long after that, he was shut down with a stress fracture in his left elbow. He started this season building up innings in extended spring training and then finally came north to make a start at high Single-A Aberdeen last Friday night. He was strong there, too, with Rutschman catching him – throwing four scoreless with six strikeouts.
Today’s first inning for him went 1-2-3 on eight pitches, seven strikes, three swings and misses, and with two strikeouts. He needed just 13 pitches – throwing 12 more strikes – in the scoreless second. Hall ran into trouble for the first time in the Harrisburg third. The Senators got two on via a leadoff single and two-out walk, but Hall got No. 2 hitter Jack Dunn to ground out, ending a 22-pitch inning.
In the Harrisburg fourth, designated hitter Wilson Garcia reached on a one-out bloop single to center. After a fielder’s choice for the second out, right fielder Justin Connell doubled into the left-field corner. That brought Baysox manager Kyle Moore to the mound and right-hander Tyler Burch into the game. While Hall may well have gotten out of his own jam, Burch allowed a two-run single to left fielder Dondrei Hubbard. Both runs were charged to Hall’s record as the Senators went ahead 2-1.
But it was another step forward for Hall and Rutschman also felt it was a strong - and at times dominant - day for the lefty.
“That is the thing about DL," said Rutschman. "Every single outing he has, he has the ability to do that. Today, his plan was working, able to execute pitches and just fortunate enough to be back out and get to catch him.
“I think a big part of rehabbing for him is making sure we are getting an even mix of pitches going. Making sure we’re getting to our two-strike pitches. He was able to do that today. They got a couple of weak hits there in the fourth inning. He hit his pitch limit, so not able to finish it out. But competitive outing, loved the way he went about his business today. From last week to this week, he made significant improvement and I just look forward to that getting better."
Rutschman went 2-for-4 with a walk as Harrisburg beat the Baysox 6-1, dropping Bowie's record to 10-13. He is batting .417 (5-for-12) in three Double-A game and is batting .440 (11-for-25) in seven games between Aberdeen and Bowie. Infielder Jordan Westburg, batting .190 at first pitch, went 1-for-3 with two walks today, but Bowie was held to four hits.
But Hall had an impressive day as he returned to the Double-A level. The velocity was impressive, yes, but so too were the secondaries and pitch mix. He commanded four pitches and got swings and misses on all four.
He certainly is expected to find his way to the Orioles at some point this season. Club officials will decide when that day comes. For now, he showed once again he can hold his own and then some against Double-A hitters. With the move to Triple-A tomorrow, there will be just one more step between the talented lefty and his major league debut.