DL Hall excited to make his pitch for a rotation spot

He is the pride of Valdosta, Ga., and now has his own Orioles-produced short film to prove that. He was the 21st overall player selected in the 2017 MLB Draft. He can throw a fastball 100 miles per hour and his name has been consistently on top 100 lists, most of them, since his draft day.

But Dayton Layne Hall, known better as DL, still has some doubters. It seems sometimes he actually prefers it that way. This kid is out to prove people wrong. It’s been that way for a long time.

If you feel he is a longshot to make the Orioles' opening day rotation, what with 12 or so candidates competing for those jobs, this kid, with his quiet confidence and intensity, is out to prove you wrong.

“Just to go out there and compete and earn a spot in the rotation,” he said of his approach to spring training this year. O’s reporters interviewed the 24-year-old lefty during Saturday’s Birdland Caravan. “Just (want to) continue to build off what I learned and did last year in the big leagues.

“I mean, the focus for me is to be a starter. I think I can be a big league starter. That’s what I am focused on and that’s what I’m going to do.”

And even if some in Birdland don’t fully buy into that yet, Hall does.

He made the majors for the first time last year and his debut came in a start on Aug. 13 at Tropicana Field. The Rays got to him for five runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings and he gave up eight earned runs his first three games. But down the stretch in September, over his last eight games, he gave up one run in 8 2/3 innings with two walks to 11 strikeouts.

“You know, I think the big thing for me is just to attack guys,” he said in learning about the big leagues in 2022. “Especially in the big leagues, you can’t beat around the zone too much. Just go right at ‘em and kind of have that confidence, for me. Once I built that confidence, I felt like it was a different story, so just continue to be confident and be myself. 

“I am comfortable with whatever (starting or relief). Anytime I can go out there and toe the rubber. I don’t care where it’s at, who it’s for or what role. Just going to go out and do my best.”

Hall once pushed for the top 50 on those top 100 prospects lists and made a few. In the lists just out last month, he is No. 75 via Baseball America, No. 84 on The Athletic, No. 95 via Baseball Prospectus, No. 97 on MLBPipeline.com and is now unranked by ESPN.

If you don’t think Hall has the stuff to make it, Baseball America put a top-of-scale 80 grade on his fastball, a 70 grade on his slider and a 60 for his curve and changeup. All plus pitches. Grayson Rodriguez, who tops him on the prospect lists, gets a 70, 70, 60 and 55 for the same offerings.

But the difference is the plus 65 grade Rodriguez gets for control and command, while Hall gets a below-average 40 grade.

Now both young pitchers will be part of the rotation competition in Sarasota.

“I think it’s a good problem to have,” said Hall. “I think it will make all of us better. I think everyone who is competing will do a great job and it will make it hard on Mike (Elias) and (Brandon) Hyde. But it’s a good problem, a great problem. We have a lot of good arms and we’re going to see who can do it.”

The Valdosta kid made the big leagues for the first time last year, and making the rotation is next on his to-do list. If he does it, or even if he doesn’t, the hometown support in Valdosta will still be waiting for him.

Click here to see the fantastic short film on his hometown roots put together by the Orioles.

Hall said that 20-minute film, called "Putting Down Roots: The DL Hall story," means a lot to him.

“Yeah, I think it was great. My story is a big part of why I play the game and why I carry myself the way I do and everything that I do," Hall said. "For me, to be able to show the fans and the media and just everyone a little piece of my story, it was a blessing. You know the (Orioles) media team did an unbelievable job.”

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