Left-handed pitching prospect DL Hall didn’t break camp with the Orioles because they wanted him to continue to work as a starter. His first appearance with Baltimore this year came out of the bullpen, where he thrived down the stretch last season.
The Orioles added Hall as their 27th man for Saturday’s doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. Hall, 24, is the No. 2 pitching prospect in the organization behind right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, who is scheduled to start the second game of the twin bill. After Dean Kremer pitched the first five innings of the opener, a 7-4 loss, Hall provided length out of the bullpen for an Orioles’ pitching staff that needed to cover two games’ worth of innings, striking out seven and allowing two runs over three frames.
“You bring up DL Hall as your 27th man, that’s a good feeling,” manager Brandon Hyde said before the game. “He’s stretched out as a starter. He closed in Yankee Stadium last year. There’s a lot of things we can do with him.
“We’re trying to win games, and we feel like DL’s a great option.”
Hall was the scheduled starter for the second game of Triple-A Norfolk’s doubleheader Friday. The outing would have been his fifth this year with the Tides; he allowed eight runs, 15 hits and nine walks with 20 strikeouts over 16 1/3 innings in his first four starts, focused on building up from lower back discomfort that kept him from fully participating in Baltimore’s spring training rotation competition.
“I feel like it’s kind of been some good moments and some bad moments,” Hall said. “Just kind of part of getting back into the swing of things. I feel like it’s kind of been a roller coaster. But I’m getting to a point now where I feel more consistent and just my delivery and things like that, so I’m excited to see the results to come.”
Saturday showed there’s further progress to be made. Although Hall’s strikeouts accounted for seven of nine outs, he was made to work for each, needing 75 pitches to get through three innings. His changeup was an effective pitch, inducing whiffs on six of the 11 swings against it. But his velocity was down on each of his offerings relative to last year’s major league stint, with his fastball averaging a tick above 93 mph Saturday after he sat 96 with the Orioles in 2022.
Hall said that dip is a mix of both mechanical issues he is working through and his progress from the back injury. He said he lifted weights for the first time this past week.
“Now, we can start adding some strength and hopefully tighten some mechanical things up, as well,” Hall said. “I think a combination of that’s gonna be big for me. Once I get that velo back, I feel like I can have a lot of success.”
Rather than use Hall in shorter stints out of their major league bullpen to open the season, the Orioles sent him to Norfolk to be in the Tides’ rotation, hoping to soon use his dynamic repertoire in theirs. At the time, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said Hall is “too good” to be limited to a bullpen role at this point of his career, citing his strike-throwing and tempo to say his camp was “the best that he has looked” in any spring training despite the decrease in velocity.
But Hall has also shown how dynamic his stuff can be as a reliever. A mix of injuries and the coronavirus pandemic have kept Hall from pitching 100 innings in a season since he joined the organization as Baltimore’s first-round draft pick in 2017. After he made his major debut as a starter last August, the Orioles returned him to the minors to get comfortable as a reliever, allowing them to manage his workload while having him on the roster for a postseason push. In his final eight outings, Hall struck out 11 while allowing one run over 8 2/3 innings, recording his first career save on the road against the New York Yankees.
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Should he be used Saturday, he’ll try to continue that success, saying he’s “here to help the team whatever way they need me.”
“As long as I’m out there on the field, I don’t really care,” Hall said.
He acknowledged it’s “not ideal” that this will be a one-day stint, with his status as the 27th man requiring he is returned to the minors after the games, but reiterated his desire to contribute to the Orioles. Elias has said the organization’s goal with bringing prospects to the majors is for them to stay there, but Hall’s call-up is the second this week that could be brief.
Set to face a set of left-handed starters in Detroit, Baltimore promoted infielder Joey Ortiz, the system’s No. 7 prospect per Baseball America, to add another right-handed bat to their roster. Ortiz drove in three runs in Thursday’s victory, tying Don Baylor’s 1970 franchise record for the most RBIs in a major league debut, but Hyde said before the game that his promotion came without guaranteed length.
“It’s a wait and see, honestly, right now,” Hyde said Thursday. “We’re trying to win games, and so we’re gonna try to get the best roster we can, short term, long term. We feel like Joey’s going to be able to possibly help us this series, and then we’ll go from there.”
Hall and Ortiz being on the major league roster to help win major league games is the latest sign Baltimore’s rebuild is complete. The Orioles entered the doubleheader with the second-best record in the American League, and they believed those two young players could help pick up two more victories Saturday. Although Hall’s presence didn’t lead to a victory in Saturday’s opening game, there’s plenty of hope for future contributions.
“I’m super excited for this year,” Hall said. “This year is one that I’ve really looked forward to just because my feel has been incredible this year, better than any years past. Just getting that strength back, I think, is going to be the big thing for me.”