TODAY: The Orioles officially announced Hall’s promotion. Left-hander Nick Vespi was optioned to Triple-A to make room on Baltimore’s active roster.
2:59pm: Top pitching prospect DL Hall is traveling to meet the Orioles in St. Petersburg for their upcoming series against the Rays, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (Twitter link). Manager Brandon Hyde confirmed that Hall was being promoted but suggested the team has yet to decide when he’ll first pitch (via Andy Kostka of the Baltimore Sun).
It’s been a half-decade since Hall entered the organization as the 21st overall pick in the 2017 draft. A Georgia high school product, he received a $3MM signing bonus on the strength of a mid-90s fastball and a curveball that most evaluators considered at least a plus offering. Hall also showed a promising changeup but had some questions about the consistency of strike-throwing ability.
That report — monster raw stuff paired with spotty control — has become perhaps even more extreme during his time in the professional ranks. Baseball America wrote over the offseason that Hall now touches 100 MPH and averages around 97 MPH on his heater. That’s atypical velocity for any starter but particularly rare for a left-hander. Among MLB starters with 30+ innings on the season, Jesus Luzardo and Shane McClanahan are the only southpaws averaging north of 96 MPH (although Carlos Rodon, Blake Snell and Aaron Ashby are all between 95.5 MPH and 96 MPH).
BA credits Hall with two distinct breaking pitches — a mid-80s slider and a somewhat softer curveball — and grades both as at least above-average offerings. The outlet also credits him with the solid changeup he’s long had in his arsenal, giving him one of the better repertoires for any young pitcher. Hall has appeared among BA’s top 60 overall prospects entering each of the past four years, and he earned the #59 ranking on the publication’s latest update from last week.
That elite arsenal has unsurprisingly translated into plenty of whiffs at the minor league level. Hall has fanned more than a third of opponents at every stop since hitting High-A in 2019. That includes a massive 36% strikeout rate through 18 starts with Triple-A Norfolk this season. Among International League pitchers with 50+ frames, only teammate Grayson Rodriguez (who’s widely regarded as the top pitching prospect in the sport) has punched out batters at a better clip.
Unlike Rodriguez, however, Hall has still yet to consistently harness his arsenal. He’s walked upwards of 10% of batters faced at each level and has doled out free passes to 13.9% of opponents in Norfolk. No qualified big league starter has a walk rate anywhere near that high, and it’s the third-highest mark among that group of International League hurlers with 50 or more innings. The free passes, paired with an elevated .340 batting average on balls in play against him, have contributed to a lackluster 4.76 ERA over his first 70 Triple-A innings.
Nevertheless, the Orioles are set to get a look at Hall against big league hitters in what is surprisingly a pivotal series for Baltimore. They’re 58-53 on the year, just half a game behind the Tampa Bay club against which he’s likely to make his debut for the American League’s last Wild Card spot. The next three games are arguably as important as any the franchise has played in over five years. Giving Hall the ball in any of those contests is a strong show of faith in the 23-year-old.
Hall is already on the 40-man roster, having been added last offseason to keep him from being taken in the Rule 5 draft that never wound up happening. He’s in the first of three minor league option years and could certainly bounce between Baltimore and Norfolk over the coming weeks. We’re already well past the date for Hall to get either a full season of service time or enough to have a serious possibility at qualifying for early arbitration as a Super Two player after 2024. Even if he’s in the big leagues from here on out, he won’t reach arbitration until after the 2025 campaign and won’t hit free agency until the 2028-29 offseason. That trajectory could be pushed back further by future options to the minor leagues.