Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Orioles add rookie pitcher Hall, veteran first baseman Aguilar to September roster

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

For the Orioles of recent seasons, an expanded September roster meant a chance to ease the burden of a weary pitching staff that had been clobbered for the better part of five months.

But general manager Mike Elias now hopes two extra roster spots can augment his surprising club’s wild-card hopes over the season’s final 33 games.

A day after promoting top prospect Gunnar Henderson to the majors, the Orioles have recalled rookie left-handed pitcher DL Hall and selected the contract of veteran first baseman Jesus Aguilar ahead of Thursday’s series finale in Cleveland. Regarded as the second-best pitching prospect in Baltimore’s farm system behind Grayson Rodriguez, the hard-throwing Hall will work out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season and had been transitioning to a relief role at Triple-A Norfolk since making his first major league start at Tampa Bay on Aug. 13. Released by Miami last week and signed to a minor-league deal on Wednesday, Aguilar, 32, is expected to back up Ryan Mountcastle at first base — Tyler Nevin was demoted to make room for Henderson — and provide a power bat off the bench for the stretch run.

With manager Brandon Hyde leaning heavily on rookie closer Felix Bautista and an overachieving bullpen that lost 2022 All-Star selection Jorge Lopez at the trade deadline, the hope is for Hall — who turns 24 later this month — to be able to provide some meaningful contributions in relief while gaining major league experience, but that will largely depend on his command. It’s no secret that the 2017 first-round pick averaged 5.8 walks per nine innings to go along with an impressive strikeout rate of 14.7 per nine for the Tides this season, and that shaky control carried over to the bullpen where he struck out 11 and walked five over his last four appearances covering 6 2/3 innings. A consensus top 100 prospect in baseball for a few years now, Hall hasn’t progressed beyond pitching on two days of rest, which will limit how Hyde can use him.

The 6-foot-3, 277-pound Aguilar has posted a career-low .674 on-base plus slugging percentage in 456 plate appearances this season, but the right-handed slugger has clubbed 15 home runs and 18 doubles to go along with his .236 batting average. He owns a .255/.326/.452 slash line with 108 homers over his career and was named to the All-Star Game in 2018 when he batted .274 with 35 homers, 108 runs batted in, and an .890 OPS for Milwaukee. With Mountcastle batting just .173 with a .532 OPS since the All-Star break, Aguilar receiving some starts at first is hardly out of the question if he produces.

Aguilar was scheduled to bat sixth and serve as the designated hitter in Thursday’s lineup.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Aguilar, the Orioles designated infielder Richie Martin for assignment.

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