Hall's 'electric' stuff on full display against Brewers sluggers

Hard-throwing lefty draws praise after striking out Rhys Hoskins and Christian Yelich

February 27th, 2024

PHOENIX -- Pat Murphy thinks 's ceiling is becoming an MLB ace. And he said that before Hall mowed down and at American Family Fields of Phoenix on Tuesday.

"Hall's got a chance to be a No. 1," the Brewers manager said of his young southpaw. "Just because he's got overpowering stuff. This kid's electric."

It didn't take Hall long to show it. An hour and a half later, the 25-year-old left-hander took the mound at the Brewers' Spring Training complex for a simulated game -- and immediately struck out both of his star teammates.

In fact, Hall struck out the side in his first inning of work: Christian Arroyo, Yelich, Hoskins. And his stuff looked nasty.

"His stuff obviously speaks for itself," Hoskins said after facing Hall for the first time since the two of them joined the Brewers -- Hoskins as a free agent, Hall as a prize of the Corbin Burnes trade. "I'm excited after that. It was only a couple of at-bats, but being able to start from a position of having extreme stuff like he does is pretty cool."

Hall threw all four of his pitches: fastball, slider, curveball, changeup. His fastball was sitting at 95-96 mph, his slider at 87-88, his changeup in the mid-to-upper 80s and his curveball in the low 80s. Everything was as advertised from one of the most promising pitchers on the Brewers' roster.

Hall's first time facing Yelich, he pumped in a 95 mph fastball for Strike 1, got the former MVP to wave at a slider for Strike 2 and then ripped another fastball by Yelich for Strike 3.

"He's got good stuff," Yelich said. "Good slider, good heater. A lot of life to it."

Hall's heater, Yelich said, was the best pitch he saw. That lines up with what we've seen from Hall in his big league career. In his two seasons as a reliever with the Orioles, Hall's four-seamer averaged 96 mph with above-average rise, generating strong swing-and-miss and strikeout rates.

Hoskins got plenty of that heat, too -- Hall set him up with multiple mid-90s four-seamers earlier in his first at-bat, then got Hoskins off balance with at an 88 mph changeup away and put him away with a 95 mph fastball in the same spot. Walking back to the dugout, Hoskins demanded from Hall: "More of that."

"The fastball jumps," Hoskins said after seeing Hall's from the batter's box. "He's an athletic dude, he's moving fast, but he's not very big. But because he spins it, it jumps on you a little bit. That perceived velocity is not actually how fast it's coming."

Hoskins actually remembers seeing Hall once before, when Hoskins was on the Phillies and Hall was a young Orioles prospect during Spring Training in 2022. He remembers Hall being more of a raw talent back then, and was impressed with the developed pitcher he saw Tuesday.

"The stuff was obviously still there, but there was just so much less feel for pitching back then," Hoskins recalled. "You could see that today. It's cool to see him working on that, just that 'pitchability' part of it -- but the stuff is still off the charts."

Hoskins was also impressed by how Hall mixed all four of his pitches, noting that Hall's changeup had fade to it, which will force right-handed hitters to be less aggressive against his fastball, and that his curveball "is gonna be a monster" vs. lefties.

Hall was mostly fastball-slider when he was in the Baltimore bullpen, but the Brewers are talking about him like he's a frontline starter down the line -- and are looking at stretching him out this spring to see if a starting role is best for him right away. In an ideal world, Murphy said, Hall would win one of Milwaukee's rotation jobs.

As an electric, power-pitching lefty in Milwaukee, the easy comparison for Hall is former Brewers closer Josh Hader. Their repertoires are different … Hall's starting pitcher aspirations are different … but they're in the same mold.

"Josh is one of my favorite pitchers of all time. I feel privileged to have been part of it, just standing in the dugout with the same uniform on," Murphy said. "But with that being said, the comparison you have is: You see this kid being a high-end, successful pitcher in the big leagues … You can see that, 'Hey, this kid's got it.' He's got the 'It' factor for me."