New Crew duo merit a closer look

February 6th, 2024

This story was excerpted from the Brewers Beat newsletter, with Joe Trezza filling in for Adam McCalvy. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Hello, Brewers fans. I was already slated to fill in for Adam McCalvy for this newsletter, before the Brewers traded Corbin Burnes to the Orioles in a blockbuster deal that landed them two Major League-ready prospects and a 2024 comp pick on Thursday night. I covered the Orioles from 2018-22 and still compile their Top 30 Prospects list for MLB Pipeline, so it felt like a good opportunity to use this space to inform Brewers fans about the players entering the organization.

“We were in a dogged pursuit of him the entire offseason … it’s hard to have somebody higher than Corbin Burnes on your wish list,” Orioles GM Mike Elias said last week. “I think it was a great trade for both sides. They are getting not just young talent but two players who are plug-and-play ready to fill holes on their team. And we’re going to miss those guys. It was a good exchange of needs and fits.”

So let’s take a closer look at and , the Brewers’ immediate return in the deal:

Tools (on 20-80 scouting scale): Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 65 | Overall: 55
MLB Pipeline rankings: No. 63 overall, was No. 6 on Orioles Top 30 list, now No. 5 on Brewers

What to know
Ortiz broke out as a college prospect at hitter-happy New Mexico State University in 2019, and he put up some strong offensive numbers in the Minors, especially last year at Triple-A Norfolk. But even when the Orioles made him a fourth-round selection in the ’19 MLB Draft, it was all about Ortiz’s glove, which remains his primary skill.

Ortiz is considered a better-than-plus defender at shortstop, thanks to his advanced hands, actions, instincts, above-average arm and ability to slow the game down. His defensive ability is excellent enough for some to peg him as a future Gold Glove winner, and it gives him a high floor even if he develops into an only league-average player offensively.

He’s a slightly-below-average runner but athletic enough for his defensive acumen to translate across the infield, showing an ability to play a plus second base and a capable third. He might end up at the hot corner in the short term, with Willy Adames handling short in Milwaukee, but could also position himself as the Brewers’ shortstop of the future. Adames is set to reach free agency after this season.

That kind of opportunity was not presenting itself in Baltimore, where Ortiz was largely blocked by Gunnar Henderson and top overall prospect Jackson Holliday, as well as talented infielders like Jordan Westburg, Ramón Urías and, to some extent, Jorge Mateo. And while Milwaukee has a wave of prospects nearing the Majors, Ortiz slides right behind Tyler Black on its Top 30 list as one of the most highly touted infielders in the organization.

What they’re saying
“He’s thrilled to play anywhere. This guy’s a gamer. Hard-nosed kid. A great defender. Gold Glove-caliber type is in our reports.” -- Brewers GM Matt Arnold

Tools (entering 2023): Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 50 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 40 | Overall: 50
MLB Pipeline rankings: Entered 2023 ranked No. 97 on MLB Top 100 Prospects list, No. 7 on Orioles’ Top 30 (graduated during ’23 season)

What to know
Hall could move right into the Brewers’ bullpen or rotation, depending how Milwaukee views him. Hall was one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects since the club made him its first-round pick way back in 2017. They developed him as a starter all the way through last season, when he made 11 starts at Triple-A Norfolk.

Most of Hall’s big league experience, though, is in the bullpen, where he pitched to a 3.38 ERA in 29 1/3 innings over the past two seasons. The 25-year-old is a four-pitch lefty whose fastball averaged 95.6 mph in the Majors last season. He has seen his velocity flirt with triple-digits when pitching in shorter stints.

Hall’s big stuff has always allowed him to miss bats. He has struck out 12.7 batters per nine innings in the Minors and 11.5 per nine in the Majors. He struggled with walks as a prospect at times and missed most of the 2021 season with an elbow injury that did not require surgery. But his control improved in relief last season, and his starting background makes him comfortable pitching longer in relief; six of Hall’s 18 appearances last season were for more than one inning.

What Hall hasn’t done is throw 100 innings in a season. Over the past two years at all levels, he’s made 33 starts and 39 relief appearances.

With some durability concerns and stuff and command that plays up in shorter stints, some see Hall as a likely reliever (and a good one) long term. But Hall is still young enough that the Brewers don’t necessarily need to choose a lane right now. How Milwaukee deploys him in the short term could go a long way toward determining his long-term value.

What they’re saying
“DL Hall is someone both we and Milwaukee long term project to be a starting pitcher, but it was very likely he would’ve started this season in the bullpen and we would’ve built him up from there.” -- Elias

“He’s been good in both roles. He’s been a starter in the Minor Leagues, and he was an outstanding reliever for the Orioles last year, in particular in the playoffs. And so we think he’s going to have success in either role. … I think whatever role he’s in, he’s going to be great for us.” -- Arnold