Prospects show off Orioles' talented future

March 29th, 2022

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Orioles primarily showcased their future in Monday's 7-1 loss to the Phillies at BayCare Ballpark -- and things really heated up when D.L. Hall took the mound in the seventh.

Hall, the club's No. 5 prospect, missed with his first two pitches -- both fastballs -- up and in to Phillies prospect Mickey Moniak, including the first sailing past Moniak's face. Undeterred, the 23-year-old lefty responded by pumping in three straight fastballs for strikes to retire Moniak.

Strike one registered at 98.7 mph on the radar gun. Strike two was a 99.6 mph offering that was fouled away. Strike three came when Moniak whiffed at a 100 mph heater.

"I had maybe a little too much adrenaline those first couple pitches," said Hall, who was making his first game appearance since a June 12 outing with Double-A Bowie. "But I was able to settle in and remind myself that I've been doing this for a long time."

Hall was optioned to Bowie following the game to continue stretching out for the season. The Orioles also optioned three players to Triple-A Norfolk: outfielder Yusniel Diaz (No. 26 prospect), left-hander Alexander Wells and right-hander Kyle Bradish (No. 10 prospect), who tossed two scoreless innings against the Phillies.

“For those pitchers,” general manager Mike Elias said, referencing Hall and Bradish, “both of whom we saw today and both of whom pitched great and we saw the talent on display, our main concern is building them up for what we expect will be a long season, much of which will be at the Major League level.”

Hall certainly showed no lingering issues from the stress reaction in his left elbow that forced him to miss the final three and a half months last season.

Hall threw 11 four-seam fastballs, which averaged 99.1 mph, in his Grapefruit League debut. He also mixed in four sliders, while getting a total of three swings and misses on his 15 pitches.

"After those first two, which I didn't even feel like I felt it come out of my hand -- it was just an unbelievable thing -- but it definitely felt great after that," Hall said. "Once I settled in, I took a deep breath and I reminded myself that I've been doing this since I was a kid, and everything just felt great coming out."

Hall's perfect inning came after Bradish tossed two scoreless innings earlier in the game. The 25-year-old righty escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out three-time All-Star J.T. Realmuto to end the fourth, then started the fifth by striking out reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper. Bradish has tossed four scoreless innings across two spring outings.

Elias said the Orioles still expect both players to crack the big league roster at some point this season, though they also want to be mindful of their workloads, particularly in Hall’s case.

“We view both of them as starting pitchers. We want both of them to throw over 100-plus innings this year and feel the prep will be better made in Minor League camp,” Elias said. “We hope to have both those guys up and impacting the Major League team as soon as possible, but more importantly as long as possible, without going back down to the Minor Leagues."

But Bradish and Hall were far from the only highly touted prospects to get a look on Monday.

When Hall took the mound in the seventh, he did so in front of Colton Cowser (Baltimore's No. 4 prospect), Jordan Westburg (No. 6), Coby Mayo (No. 7) and Joey Ortiz (No. 15), among others. Gunnar Henderson (No. 3) entered in the eighth, while Kyle Stowers (No. 8) started the game in right field.

“I think today was a great demonstration of the future that we have coming and knocking on the door, in terms of 2022 debuts,” Elias said. “We're going to have a lot of impact talent coming up later this season if these guys stay healthy and do their thing.”