DL Hall has heard all the comments and concerns about his command. He’s not into them.
“All I’ve heard my whole life or coming up through the Minor League system or even pre-Draft was ‘He’s got to work on his command, got to work on his command,’” Hall said after his first win of the season. “That’s kind of a slap in the face to me that I’ve been itching for this year to be able to show people that I’m more than just a hard thrower and more than just a thrower. I’m a pitcher, too. I’ve been waiting, and I’ve been putting in the work to change that to where people can’t say that anymore. I’m just ready to keep showing it.”
The left-hander started Tuesday night by setting a tone for his dominant start in the first inning, striking out the side. By the time he took the mound again, Bowie had given him a lead thanks to Terrin Vavra’s leadoff homer to right-center.
“To go out and have a good top half of the first and come in the bottom half and Terrin hit the home run, that just makes you explode,” Hall said. “That adrenaline seems like it just intensifies, and it was definitely a great feeling to know that I was going back out there with a lead in the second inning.”
Hall faced the minimum with a strikeout in the second before fanning the side again in the third. The only hits the southpaw allowed came in the fourth when Reading’s Arquimedes Gamboa singled to left to lead off the inning and Matt Vierling singled to center three batters later, loading the bases with two outs. After a mound visit, Hall got out of the jam by catching Josh Stephen looking at strike three.
Baltimore’s No. 4 prospect ended his day like he started it, retiring the side in order in the fifth and needing just six pitches to do so. Hall struck out the last batter he faced, Reading’s Colby Fitch, on a foul tip for his final strikeout.
Hall finished his efficient night throwing 62 pitches, 45 for strikes, and facing just two over the minimum.
The 21st overall pick in the 2017 Draft, Hall pitched in the 2019 Futures Game and saw action at Baltimore’s alternate training site last year in lieu of a regular Minor League season. One knock on the lefty has been his command which buckled in a 15.6 percent walk rate in 2019 at then-Class A Advanced Frederick. His first two turns on the mound in 2021, Hall has addressed that issue with 19 strikeouts against two walks.
“I want to keep showing that I’m not going to give a lot of guys free bases, not wasting pitches and using every pitch to my advantage, even if it’s a ball, pitching off of that and just continuing to build off of learning how to truly pitch and command all four of them.”
Hall also praised his Tuesday night battery mate, Baltimore’s top prospect and baseball’s No. 2 overall, catcher Adley Rutschman, who went 1-for-4 in the victory.
“It’s been unreal,” Hall said of working with the 2019 first-overall pick. “Any time you have the chance to have so much talent behind the plate catching you, it always makes you feel good. It’s huge. We have two great catchers this year in Double-A, and it’s awesome to have guys like that, especially Adley back there, because it does nothing but help your confidence. He makes you really comfortable on the mound and makes you really comfortable with throwing any pitch in any situation. He’s a big target and is definitely good on the mental side as well, picking up his pitchers and things like that.”
One week ago, Hall fanned 10 and walked two over 4 1/3 innings at Altoona before pushing himself deeper into his second outing of the year. That season-opening start came with more than its share of energy. Hall sought to utilize it and not fight it.
“I used to have a problem with getting a little bit too amped up, and I thought the best answer for it was to kind of calm yourself down,” he said. “I’ve learned that I’m a guy that’s more I kind of just have to embrace the storm, as I like to call it. That adrenaline and that overexcitement is the storm, and I just embrace it and use it in positive ways instead of trying to think of it as, ‘Oh, I need to calm myself down.’ I just embrace it and use it to have positive outcomes.”
Hall allowed just two hits in his season debut and took a no-decision but knew what he wanted to be different in his second outing.
“The first start, it was slippery,” he said. “It was raining, so it was tough conditions. It was kind of hard to grip some of my breaking stuff in the first outing. I was kind of death-gripping some pitches and things like that. Tonight I wanted to be able to get a little bit better grip on the ball and be able to spin the ball and use all four of my pitches versus only being able to use a couple.”
Though he worked at the alternate training site last year, Hall’s starts this season have been his first in competitive games since Aug. 8, 2019. His results have reflected the wait and work in between.
“It’s something that a lot of people don’t understand, the feeling that all of these Minor League guys are feeling,” he said. “A piece of our life was taken away for a year, and to be able to get back out there and do it again, being at an affiliate and playing real games, there’s no other feeling like it. The adrenaline and everything that you get to feel again, it’s great.”