Hall's 'outstanding' spring debut impresses Hyde

O's No. 7 prospect fans 4 in 1 2/3 IP; 'We're keeping our options open with him'

March 20th, 2023

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- finally made his spring debut on Monday against the Phillies. With 10 days left until the Orioles’ season opener, could the 24-year-old pitching prospect actually make Opening Day roster?

Brandon Hyde isn’t ruling anything out.

The Baltimore manager called Hall’s return to the mound “the highlight of the day for me,” though given the Orioles’ 14-6 loss at BayCare Ballpark, the list of highlights wasn’t particularly deep.

“I thought he threw the ball outstanding,” Hyde said. “We didn't make a couple plays there or he could have had an easy two innings. He had really good stuff, I loved the changeup and the breaking balls. It's just great to see him out there.”

Hall, the Orioles’ No. 7 prospect and No. 97 overall per MLB Pipeline, had been building up slowly throughout the spring after experiencing back issues.

The left-hander threw 42 pitches during a two-inning simulated game last Thursday, his final step before returning to game action.

When he entered Monday in the bottom of the sixth, Hall looked to be in midseason form, striking out Brandon Marsh on a 94 mph fastball and Edmundo Sosa on a curveball before getting Josh Harrison to offer a weak swing at a changeup, resulting in a soft fly to center to end the inning.

“Just getting my feet wet again,” Hall said. “Just kind of getting going; I'm just excited to be back out there.”

Hall returned for the seventh, striking out Scott Kingery with a changeup, his third different strikeout pitch of the outing.

“All of his stuff worked well,” Hyde said. “He had really good life to his fastball and tempo was great. It looked like he hadn’t missed much time.”

The Orioles’ defense didn’t do Hall any favors after that. Reed Trimble was unable to make a play on what appeared to be a routine fly to left field by Kody Clemens, then first baseman Curtis Terry made a fielding error on a grounder with two outs in the inning.

The final line saw Hall charged with three runs (one earned) on three hits, one walk and four strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings, though a deeper look showed a much more effective outing, including 10 swing-and-misses among his 43 pitches.

“I think I still got weak contact in the second inning,” Hall said. “I don't think there was really much of a difference.”

Of the five balls put into play against Hall, four had exit velocities of 86.2 mph or lower, including a 65.8 mph bloop single by Weston Wilson. Only Darick Hall’s two-out single -- which came on Hall’s final pitch of the day -- was hit hard, leaving the bat at 108.8 mph.

“I definitely started to wear down,” the pitcher said. “It's a little bit different level of energy you're having to use in a real live-game situation, so I definitely felt like I got a little tired. That’s part of the buildup.”

What exactly is Hall building up for, though? Hyde said the Orioles plan to keep lengthening Hall out with the idea of him starting games, but that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily headed for the Minors or extended spring workouts when camp breaks next week.

Hall made his big league debut in a start last Aug. 11, but when he returned as a September callup, he made all 10 of his appearances out of the bullpen.

“We're keeping our options open with him, but we're going to continue to stretch him out,” Hyde said. “We're not set in any way in our 'pen or rotation. We're going to keep our options open with all these guys.”