Orioles pitching prospect D.L. Hall and catching prospect Adley Rutschman both got off to late starts this season, through no fault of their own.
When minor leaguers traveled north to get the season rolling in April, Hall stayed behind in Sarasota, Fla., to build up his arm. He was shut down with a stress reaction in his left elbow last year and couldn’t report to minor league camp in February due to the lockout. Hall was placed on the Orioles’ 40-man roster during the offseason, meaning he was among the players affected by the lockout.
Rutschman isn’t on the 40-man roster, so he was able to report to minor league camp. But a right triceps strain cropped up in March, shutting him down for a few weeks and keeping him in Sarasota with Hall. The pair reported to Aberdeen for the IronBirds’ April 26-May 1 series against Jersey Shore, then moved up to Double-A Bowie briefly before settling in with Triple-A Norfolk.
Hall has thrown four times thus far, once apiece with Aberdeen and Bowie and twice with Norfolk. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound left-hander has posted a 3.14 ERA with 23 strikeouts and five walks in 14.1 innings during those starts, with Rutschman catching him in all four.
“We’ve definitely come a long way, just comfortability around each other off the field and on the field,” Hall said of Rutschman on Glenn Clark Radio May 13. “We went from complete strangers to now I feel like we work really good together on the mound. It’s always nice to have a top-tier guy like that back there and now that he’s learned my pitch preference, we’re just really comfortable with each other. He’s pretty comfortable calling what he thinks I might like. We work really well together. I don’t have to shake too many times.”
Hall said he has been up to 100 mph with his fastball this year but most recently has worked between 96-98 mph with Norfolk. When Hall was drafted out of Valdosta (Ga.) High School back in 2017, his curveball was considered his top secondary offering. Hall said he struggled with getting a feel for the pitch with the minor league ball at first but has since regained his feel for the curve.
In the meantime, Hall’s changeup has turned into his favorite pitch. Add in a slider for good measure and it’s a filthy four-pitch mix:
With so many weapons to choose from, how does Rutschman go about picking which one to call with Hall on the hill? Is Rutschman ever insistent upon one particular pitch?
“The catchers, they have a game plan and they have a wrist band that kind of tells them hitter by hitter what they think will work in that situation,” Hall said. “If he feels like maybe I’m not convicted in one pitch and I’m shaking to something else and … he doesn’t do it often but if he’s super sure and he thinks that’s what we need, he’ll put it back down and kind of give you a fist like, ‘Come on, this is what we’re doing.'”
Rutschman is expected to reach Baltimore soon, with Hall and right-hander Grayson Rodriguez not far behind. At some point this summer, Hall and Rodriguez could be in the big league rotation with Rutschman catching them. How does that sound to Hall?
“We try not to think too far forward. We try to live in the moment and enjoy what we’re doing right now, but it’s definitely something that we talk about and we look forward to,” Hall said. “Once all of us get to be up there together and work together and get comfortable and go through that learning phase, I think that we’re really going to surprise some people and show them that we really have some true talent coming up.”
For more from Hall, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Scott Sears