When DL Hall made his 2022 spring training debut, a one-inning cameo that marked his return from injury, it was Radar Gun that garnered the most attention. The left-hander had captured the mound for the first time in the game since his midsection had closed a year earlier and pumped triple points with his fastball.
It has always been the eye-catching part of Hall’s repertoire on the mound, and perhaps it is the high velocity that encourages some spectators to consider a future coming out of the bullpen at the major league level rather than the starting pitcher. .
But focusing on that high-speed fastball — seductively — misses the full picture of Hall, the 23-year-old who ranks as the No. 3 prospect in the Orioles organization according to Baseball America.
“I’m just not a 100-mph fastball guy,” Hall said. “I can throw in other stuff too. This is something that I will continue to prove – and improve – and will continue to try to order all four of them.”
This is his change, which he worked to master at the alternate training site in 2020. It’s their slider, the sweeping movement that produces enough thrust. It’s his curveball, which he’s still manipulating to perfect it as a differentiator with 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock breaks.
Because of those pitches Hall believes he can break into the Orioles’ rotation, a four-pitch arsenal that can be stocked for strikes sets him apart from other hard-throwing pitchers with his variability. Is.
“To get to that true breaking ball and get that change, I think they both took a huge leap for me,” Hall said, “and I think that’s why I’ve had some success. Found it.”
On Tuesday, Hall made his triple-A debut for the Norfolk Tides. His outing – one run allowed on 53 pitches in three innings – was not what he expected. He had hoped to go deeper into the game, continuing a buildup since his return from a stress reaction in his left elbow that ended the 2021 season.
But the organization opted to play it safe with Hall. He had traveled extensively the day before, part of a rapid rise to Triple-A. He made his debut with High-A Aberdeen in late April. The next week, he debuted for Double-A Bowie. And then five days later — with a trip to Nashville in the mix to join the Tides — they mounded Tuesday at Harbor Park in Norfolk.
His body was not feeling well. He drove back from Nashville to Washington, DC, then picked up his car and drove four hours south. But he didn’t mind the tornado as it resulted in a step in the right direction.
“It’s been crazy, but it’s all been fun,” Hall said. “Every step you’re taking closer to Baltimore is a good thing.”
Hall has spent much of the past two seasons developing his change, starting with an alternate 2020 site after the coronavirus pandemic led to the cancellation of the minor league season. By 2021, the Valdosta, Georgia, native felt comfortable with the pitch, but had only had a chance to demonstrate it in 31 2/3 innings before being called off.
So this year, Hall is showing what change can bring, especially against right-handed batsmen. He combines it with a slider and curveball, though he’s still tweaking how his curveball looks with his hand.
This is not a change in the arm slot. Instead, by altering the position of his hand, he is adding more depth to the pitch to drop it over 12-6, as opposed to his wider slider. This gives him a four-pitch arsenal to keep hitters off balance at times through the order.
“I don’t really care if I throw 100 fastballs or make 100 shifts in that game,” Hall said. “If I get people out, I care.”
So for all the attention to his high-velocity fastball, Hall is much more than that. And it is his command of all four pitches that could translate to success as a major league starter in the near future.