The wait for heralded pitching prospect DL Hall to join the Orioles is finally over.
Just over a week after general manager Mike Elias said it was “liftoff from here” for a surprising Baltimore club in the thick of the AL wild-card race, Hall is joining the Orioles in St. Petersburg for a key three-game set against Tampa Bay. According to The Baltimore Sun, the 23-year-old lefty is expected to make his major league debut against the Rays on Saturday. Hall is already part of the 40-man roster, so recalling him would require only a 26-man roster move.
A 2017 first-round pick out of Valdosta High School in Georgia who saw his path to the majors delayed by the pandemic cancellation of the 2020 minor league season and a stress fracture in his pitching elbow last season, Hall has been one of baseball’s consensus top 100 prospects since 2019 with a fastball hitting triple digits, a very good changeup, and two breaking pitches. Beginning his 2022 season on a throwing progression coming back from last year’s injury, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Hall has struck out an impressive 14.7 batters per nine innings in 18 starts covering 70 innings at Triple-A Norfolk this season. However, his control remains inconsistent as he’s averaged 5.7 walks per nine frames and posted a 4.76 ERA with the Tides.
After Hall’s poor starts on July 26 and Aug. 2, Elias said he and manager Brandon Hyde offered encouragement to Baltimore’s second-best pitching prospect, who responded with much better results in his last start for Norfolk on Aug. 7.
“I think that, as expected, he’s had a real up-and-down experience in Triple-A, and I think that’s the type of talent he is,” Elias said in Texas last week. “He’s been inconsistent, but he’s immensely gifted and immensely equipped to be a great big leaguer, and he’s right there. I do plan on and hope on him helping this team this year. But we need him to be consistent in Triple-A.
“He’s learning, he understands, and I think he’s going to be all the better for having these last two poor starts and adjusting to them.”
The Orioles hope Hall can provide a spark to a pitching staff that has been without ace John Means (Tommy John surgery) since mid-April and lost top starter Tyler Wells to a lower left side injury late last month. However, it remains to be seen how far the organization will push the hard-throwing southpaw, who pitched only 31 2/3 innings last year and is up to 77 2/3 total frames in 2022. That could lead to a possible shutdown or transition to a bullpen role before the conclusion of 2022, but the Orioles aren’t going to tip their hand for now.
They’ll just hope the gifted Hall pitches well enough to force the issue.