ABERDEEN, Md. — Four weeks ago, D.L. Hall was showcasing his triple-digit fastball in a Grapefruit League game against the Phillies. On Tuesday, the left-hander arrived at Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium to begin what he hopes is a journey to Baltimore.
Hall will begin his season in the coming days with the High-A IronBirds, officially resuming his Minor League career after a stress reaction in his left elbow forced him to miss the final three and a half months of the 2021 season.
“I’m feeling great,” Hall said. “It was a long journey. It seems like it’s been forever since I got to toe the rubber in a game, but I’m just excited to put it in the rearview and keep moving forward.”
Hall has been working out at the Orioles’ complex in Sarasota, Fla., since March 28, when he was optioned following his perfect inning against the Phillies in Clearwater. The 23-year-old southpaw averaged 99.1 mph with his 11 fastballs that day, showing the stuff that has him ranked as the Orioles’ No. 5 prospect (and No. 89 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100) entering the season.
“It was awesome, a lot of adrenaline,” Hall said of that outing, which was his first since last June 12. “It was just a great feeling to be back in the game in that game setting.”
Hall wasn’t the only top Orioles prospect reporting to Aberdeen on Tuesday; Adley Rutschman — the club’s No. 1 prospect and the overall No. 2 prospect in baseball — was set to make his first rehab appearance Tuesday night after missing most of Spring Training with a right triceps strain.
Hall and Rutschman are part of a promising farm system that has the Orioles feeling good about their future. While the pair may not be playing together in Baltimore in the immediate future, they are enthusiastic about the prospects of what lies ahead.
“It’s definitely a thought that goes through our heads; I can’t lie,” Hall said. “It’s very exciting, not just with us, but with all the guys we have coming up. Everyone in this farm system, there are just a lot of talented guys. It’s super exciting to know the future of the Orioles is in good hands, for sure.”
The IronBirds haven’t announced when Hall will make his Aberdeen debut, but after building his arm up during the past month, the 2017 first-round pick is champing at the bit to get back on the mound.
“I’m a few weeks away from being truly let loose. But I’m pretty built up right now, so we’ll see how far it goes in the game,” Hall said. “[The injury] is in my rearview. I’ve been feeling great — arm’s feeling great, body feels better than it’s ever felt. I think I’m more ready this year than ever.”
Hall was 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA in seven starts last season before the injury prematurely ended his year. While he didn’t pitch in 2020 because of the pandemic, he’s hoping to find himself in the Majors sometime in ’22.
“That’s my ultimate goal,” Hall said. “That’s what I want to do; I want to be there. It’s been a long road, so I’m ready.”