- Full name David E. Hale
- Born 09/27/1987 in Atlanta, GA
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 210 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Princeton
- Debut 09/13/2013
Drafted in the 3rd round (87th overall) by the Atlanta Braves in 2009 (signed for $405,000).
View Draft ReportA premium athlete with a prototype pitcher's frame (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) and a lightning-quick arm, Hale has split time between pitching and playing center field in three years at Princeton, and many scouts believe he could take off once he starts concentrating on pitching full-time in pro ball. The biggest knock on Hale is that he has never dominated in the Ivy League--he went 2-3, 4.43 with 47 strikeouts and 24 walks in 41 innings this spring--or in the Cape Cod League, but his power stuff is undeniable. Hale helped himself considerably in his final outing of the season in front of a bevy of scouts, holding his 92-93 mph fastball velocity into the sixth inning and regularly reaching 95-96. He has topped out at 97 this year and pitches with minimal effort, but some scouts say his fastball is flat and easy to pick up. At times he'll flash a plus slider in the 84-86 range, reaching 88, but other times the pitch is sweeping and he struggled to command it. Hale still needs to learn to command his stuff in the strike zone, and questions about his ability to do so lead many scouts to project him as a reliever, though he'll show some feel for a changeup every once in a while.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Hale fits the Braves' new profile for the draft as a power arm with low mileage. He was a two-way player at Princeton who threw fewer than 130 innings in college and did not become a full-time pitcher until he signed with Atlanta in 2009. He moved into the rotation full-time at Double-A Mississippi in 2012. The Marietta, Ga., resident established a Braves debut record with nine strikeouts over five scoreless innings versus the Padres on Sept. 13. The Braves drafted Hale for his lightning-quick arm that generates heavy action on most of his pitches. He works off a 92-94 mph fastball with good sinking action. The righthander also has improved his sharp slider and his solid changeup with above-average depth and fade. He was more effective against lefthanders (.701 OPS) than righthanders (.799) at Triple-A Gwinnett in 2013. Hale struggled with his control in 2012 but made significant strides in that area by improving his mechanics. He is a very good athlete who fields his position well and has a good pickoff move for a righthander. With four pitches he can throw for strikes, Hale prefers starting and profiles as a rotation piece in the near future. However, Atlanta's short-term need could land him in a relief role, where his velocity will tick up. His versatility should allow him to help the big league club in 2014.
After shifting Hale between starting and relieving during his first three minor league seasons, the Braves decided to stick him in their Double-A rotation in 2012 to help him develop all of his pitches. He responded by tying for the Southern League lead with 27 starts and ranking fourth with 124 strikeouts. He also ranked fourth with 67 walks, however, showing that he's still developing control. A two-way player at Princeton who saw more time in center field than on the mound, Hale continues to play catch-up in his development as a pitcher. He has a quick arm with a fluid delivery that produces a heavy 92-94 mph fastball that touches 96 mph. His slider can be a solid offering at times, while his feel for his changeup comes and goes. Hale needs to do a better job of getting ahead in the count, and of working off his fastball. Though he has proven to be durable as a starter, he could end up back in the bullpen at higher levels. He embraces relieving because his workload resembles that of an everyday player. Regardless of which role he fills this season, he'll make the jump to Triple-A after the Braves added him to their 40-man roster in November.
Hale has experienced Jekyll-and-Hyde seasons during his first two full years as a pro. In 2010, he began the year by going 0-4, 7.99 in six starts at Rome before changing roles and going 5-3, 2.16 with five saves as a reliever. Last year at Lynchburg, he posted a 5.91 ERA out of the Lynchburg bullpen before moving back to the rotation and going 3-4, 3.66 in 13 starts. A two-way player who spent most of his time at Princeton as a center fielder, Hale still is figuring out the cat-and-mouse game that is the duel between pitcher and batter. Scouts rave about his lightning-quick arm, which generates a 92-94 mph fastball that touches 96. He also throws a mid-80s slider that's one of the best in the system, but he's still trying to improve his feel for a changeup. He works behind hitters too often because an inconsistent release point hampers his command. Hale initially preferred working as a reliever because the routine was more similar to being an everyday player. The development of his changeup will determine what role he serves in the future. A promotion to Double-A is next on his agenda.
The 87th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Hale was a two-way player at Princeton who spent most of his time in center field. The Braves preferred his lightning-quick arm and liked what they saw on the mound. After a promising pro debut, he struggled early last season in low Class A, going 0-4, 7.99 through six starts. He moved to the bullpen in mid-May and went 5-3, 2.16 with five saves in six opportunities as a reliever. Hale tended to lose focus as a starter and enjoyed working in relief because it more closely resembled the daily routine of an everyday player. He has two potential pitches: a 93-94 mph fastball that touches 96, and a hard slider at 84-86 mph. He has struggled to find consistency with his changeup, though it's effective on occasion. The quality of Hale's two primary pitches and his feel for pitching improved significantly last year as he focused solely on moundwork for the first time in his career. He still needs to improve his command and get ahead in the count more often. Those upgrades, combined with a deeper understanding of how to get pro hitters out, should allow Hale to move quickly as a reliever. A promotion to high Class A is next on his agenda.
The third-highest pick ever out of Princeton, Hale signed for $405,000 as the 87th overall choice in the 2009 draft. A two-way player in college, he batted .291 as a center fielder over three seasons with the Tigers and pitched in only 26 games (22 starts). An excellent athlete, he has an ideal pitcher's frame and a lightning-quick arm. His fastball sits at 93-94 mph and repeatedly touches 96 mph, and he could gain more velocity now that he's not expending energy as an everyday player. His slider also has the makings of becoming a plus pitch while residing at 84-86 mph and touching 88. In order to remain a starter, he'll have to maintain consistent movement on his fastball and command his slider, which has nice bite at times but tends to hang and sweep. The development of his changeup, which he has shown some feel for, also will go a long way in determining his future role. Hale never dominated on the mound at Princeton or in the Cape Cod League, but he should improve now that he's focusing solely on pitching for the first time. He'll likely open his first full pro season in low Class A.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Slider in the Atlanta Braves in 2011