Holt has "no doubt" that Hall's stuff will play in the majors

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – DL Hall confirmed what the Orioles already knew but had a chance to see with their own eyes.

His final line didn’t factor into it. Wasn't important in the grand scheme.

Hall is the second-best pitching prospect in the system, ranked among the top 100 in baseball, and his bosses were able to project his capabilities at the highest level.

His stuff will play here.

“One hundred percent, yeah. No doubt about it,” said Chris Holt, the club’s pitching coach and director of pitching.

“It’s really about him being able to stay in rhythm, get in rhythm, attack with a plan, and get consistency doing it.”

Hall needs to lighten his walk totals, an issue that’s combined with a few injuries to slow his arrival. The first batter he faced in Saturday’s debut, Tampa Bay’s Yu Chang, drew a four-pitch walk. But the Orioles were impressed by the way Hall approached the assignment.

They could live with the five runs and three free passes in 3 2/3 innings. It was one game, and his last before returning to the minors and beginning the process of switching to relief.

“He showed some poise out there,” Holt said. “He knows he’s had sharper outings, but he never really got off track. He stayed focused and continued to attack and I was real proud of him for going out there and competing well.

“He was amped up, for sure, like anybody would be, but as far as trying to stay in control of his game and stay focused, I thought he did a great job.”

Holt didn’t go into a long dissertation while prepping Hall for major league hitters and an environment that’s capable of swallowing a young player.

The message was simple and straight to the point.

“Just to trust his stuff and go out and attack,” Holt said. “I think staying focused on playing the game of baseball and doing what he’s good at a bunch, and not trying to do anything above and beyond against the next level of opponents. His stuff is good enough and he can just go and do what he does.”

Hall has a fastball that can touch 100 mph, though he topped Saturday at 97.2. He brings a four-pitch arsenal, which enabled him to strike out six batters Saturday, that won’t be trimmed while he’s working out of the bullpen.

“I think it just depends on the situation in the game and who he’s facing,” Holt said. “Of course, he has four pitches that he can use for whatever the right tool for the job is.”

The Orioles aren’t introducing Hall to a completely new role. He’s made 73 minor league appearances since the Orioles drafted him in the first round in 2017, and four have been in relief. There’s a tiny sampling.

Maybe it sparks a sense of familiarity. A small spark. More of a flicker. But Hall must be retrained while he’s with Triple-A Norfolk. 

“Initially, he’s going to have normal rest coming off a start,” Holt said, “and then gradually work to have him recover and be able to post on a little bit shorter rest each time.”

Regular rest will keep Hall from making his first relief appearance with the Tides until at least Thursday.

Using Hall on back-to-back nights isn’t likely to happen. The Orioles want him to be available for one, two, maybe three innings and they can see how he recovers.

Try to gain an advantage over opponents while fighting for the first playoff berth in six years. Protect him by monitoring his innings. Then get him ready for spring training and a bid to break camp as a starter.

“I remember watching David Price when he first came up with the Rays, they broke him in out of the ‘pen,” Holt said, going back to 2008. “It was for a postseason run, also. Allowing that prospect, that player, to acclimate to the big leagues out of the ’pen, it’s certainly a nice option to have.

“As we know, this division is really tough, and so for him to come in and get acclimated in shorter stints can be a huge benefit to anybody.”

Hall received the Oriole treatment as he warmed in the visiting bullpen, every pitcher lining up to watch and then wish him luck. Pumping up the kid.  

“It’s been a great group,” Holt said. “That’s something they do on their own. They’re supportive of each other. They give each other feedback, whether it’s during a throwing program or from an outing. They’re all really linked in together well as a group.

“And as far as the routines that they have, we have guys come out every day for the pregame warmup, and that’s something that they want to do. They want to be there for that, and that’s part of our culture, and I credit the pitchers for taking the initiative on those things, as well. Like so much else that they’ve been doing.”

Kyle Bradish made his debut on April 29. Grayson Rodriguez was ready but a Grade 2 lat strain redirected him to Sarasota, where he’s had three bullpen sessions and believes that he’ll pitch again in 2022.

The march of the prospects.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Holt said. “We’ve been working with these guys since I first got here in 2019, and to see them get here, handle themselves well, is really, really encouraging.

“These guys are very talented, and as we all know, it takes a certain amount of time in the big leagues to get settled in and know that that’s what they can bring to their game every time out.”

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