There were times when hitters for the Reading Fightin Phils looked completely helpless against Bowie left-hander DL Hall, MLB Pipeline’s No. 4 Orioles prospect.
Hall overpowered them with his fastball and kept them off-balance with his changeup and breaking ball.
Hall struck out nine batters over five scoreless innings, leading the Double-A Baysox to a 6-1 victory against the Fightin Phils in the home opener at Prince George’s Stadium May 11.
The main goal for Hall this season is to cut down on walks. So far, he has met that goal. In two starts this season to begin his Double-A career, Hall has 19 strikeouts and just two walks in 9.1 innings
“Coming in after a lot of walks in the 2019 season at Frederick, this year I wanted to come in and focus on pounding the strike zone and not giving up free bases,” Hall said. “That was a big thing for me. It was really just more mental cues to help me to get to that, and trusting my stuff, and I feel like I made big strides with that.
“In spring training, I think I had three walks all of camp. I’ve made some minor tweaks, nothing too crazy, just some things to time everything up. Not really mechanical or changing anything, just working on getting everything timed up better and getting that rhythm and flow more consistently. That was big to work on that and find a consistent rhythm.”
There were questions about how Hall would perform this season after moving up a level from High-A. He led the Carolina League in strikeouts per nine innings (12.94) in 2019, but he was also dealing with a 20-month layoff because of COVID-19.
However, Hall set the tone with dominant performances in spring training. While he’s caught the attention of several coaches throughout the organization, Hall won’t be rushed to the major-league team, and he’s OK with the process.
“I’m just going to go out and pitch to the best of my ability, show everybody who DL Hall is, and hopefully that’s enough to open some eyes and make some things happen,” Hall said. “Wherever they end up sending me, I’m going to show everybody what I’m about.”
Hall, who was drafted with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft from Valdosta High School in Georgia, is part of a talented pitching staff at Bowie that includes other top prospects in Kyle Bradish, Kevin Smith and Cody Sedlock. In addition, Adley Rutschman, the No. 2 prospect in MLB, completes the battery for the Baysox behind the plate.
Rutschman has been impressed by Hall’s performance. The two have already developed a strong rapport.
“He’s a stud pitcher,” Rutschman said of Hall. “I think we’ve seen that he’s always got the stuff and as he continues to refine himself mentally and physically, being able to understand himself better, you can just see the confidence that comes with that. So I’m really excited to be able to catch him this year and be able to continue to work with him.”
Hall also has developed confidence working with Rutschman. He trusts how the young catcher calls a game and is confident in his ability to throw out runners trying to steal a base.
“He makes average pitchers look really good,” Hall said. “That’s a huge thing to have somebody back there that makes you really comfortable on the mound and gives you confidence just with his body language. It’s been great getting to work with him and I’m excited to have him behind the plate for me this year.”
Bowie manager Buck Britton has worked closely with Hall since 2018 when they were with Single-A Delmarva. He’s been impressed with Hall’s development and envisions him only getting better. So far, the results have justified that confidence.
“This kid has really matured,” Britton said. “That is the biggest thing that jumps off the page for me. And I’m not talking about being a young kid and growing up. Just, as a pitcher. It used to be, ‘Here is my fireball.’ Breaking ball was inconsistent, changeup was just being developed the last time I saw him. This guy came into camp with a different mindset. This guy looks really good.”
Photo Credits: William Vaughan/Bowie Baysox