ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Left-hander DL Hall will make his major league debut Saturday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said, adding an electric arm to the club’s pitching staff for the season’s final stretch.
With a 10-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night, the Orioles (59-53) hold a half-game lead over Tampa Bay for the third and final American League wild-card spot. Hall, the Orioles’ No. 4 prospect and the sport’s No. 59 overall prospect according to Baseball America, will face Baltimore-born left-hander Shane McClanahan, who started the All-Star Game for the AL this season and is a leading Cy Young Award candidate with a 2.24 ERA.
Hall, 23, was Baltimore’s first-round pick, No. 21 overall, in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft out of Valdosta High School in Georgia. He has since established himself as one of the game’s top pitching prospects, with his dynamic stuff — including a fastball that touches 100 mph — helping to overcome spotty command. He’s experienced an up-and-down season spent mostly at Triple-A, with a 4.76 ERA at that level but 114 strikeouts in 70 innings.
“I’m just excited to see the look on his face when he’s experiencing everything for the first time,” rookie catcher Adley Rutschman said of Hall’s debut. “Our group chat has been going off with him, so it’s been fun.”
Orioles veteran right-hander Jordan Lyles will start the series finale Sunday afternoon, closing a critical three games against Baltimore’s AL East rival. Right-hander Austin Voth started Friday and pitched five no-hit innings. To make room for Hall, who will wear No. 49 on his debut, the Orioles optioned left-hander Nick Vespi to Triple-A Norfolk.
Hall was off to an impressive start to the 2021 season at Double-A Bowie before he suffered a stress fracture in his pitching elbow, which ended his season after seven starts. Baltimore has been cautious in building up its No. 4 prospect this season, but he’s worked deeper into games of late.
On Aug. 2, he reached the 100-pitch mark for the first time as a professional, but it came as he walked five and allowed three home runs in four innings in a second straight rough start. He bounced back Sunday by pitching into the sixth inning on 99 pitches, striking out eight while allowing two runs.
“We saw DL for a brief time in spring training,” Hyde said. “He obviously has a very special arm and we’re excited for our future.”
Added Rutschman: “He’s a competitor. I don’t know how he’s going to perform tomorrow, but I know he’s going to give his best, and he’s a phenomenal, phenomenal pitcher with tremendous stuff and I have all the confidence in the world he’s going to do great.”
The young left-hander would be the latest top prospect to join the Orioles this season, following right-hander Kyle Bradish, catcher Adley Rutschman and infielder Terrin Vavra. Since being called up May 31, Rutschman has built a strong case to be considered AL Rookie of the Year. Baseball’s former top prospect entered Friday batting .250 with a .791 OPS in 64 games while leading a resurgent pitching staff, helping the Orioles go from eight games below .500 at the time of his call-up to the thick of the wild-card race.
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Hall, meanwhile, could be the first of the next wave of top prospects to arrive in Baltimore in the fourth year of the club’s rebuild under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias. Triple-A Norfolk shortstop Gunnar Henderson was recently named the sport’s top prospect by Baseball America, while Norfolk right-hander Grayson Rodriguez threw off a mound Wednesday for the first time since he landed on the injured list with a Grade 2 lat muscle strain. Rodriguez is the game’s top pitching prospect at No. 4 overall.
Last month, Elias acknowledged that Henderson, Hall and infield prospects Vavra and Jordan Westburg were pushing to join the big league club sooner than later.
“Anybody who’s playing as well or as talented as the four of those guys are, it could happen at any moment,” Elias said.