TAMPA—Covering the amateur showcase circuit extensively is important for a few reasons. Evaluators can identify top talent to follow through the fall and the spring, and they can see the best players against each other. But evaluators can also see how players progress and make adjustments, a key attribute to success at the game’s highest level.
Lefthander DL Hall (Valdosta (Ga.) High) has shown the ability to make adjustments. Earlier in the summer, Hall sometimes struggled to command his fastball. His breaking ball sometimes looped out of his hand. He fell into hitters’ counts. But he still had things that couldn’t be taught; natural athleticism, arm strength and quick hands.
On the third day of the East Coast Pro Showcase, Hall made a statement, with one of the most electric performances of any amateur prospect all summer. He faced 10 batters and struck out seven of them (four swinging and three looking). The lone hit that Hall allowed came on a high fastball to slugger Alex Toral (Archbishop McCarthy High, Southwest Ranches, Fla.), who stung a line-drive home run straight down the right field line. (More coming on this later.)
But Hall settled in, showing the ability to navigate the strike zone with three pitches. His fastball operated at 92-94 mph throughout the outing, touching 95 at least twice. He also had a hard hammer breaking ball, a deep 1-to-7 snapper with plus spin and the ability to compete in the strike zone. To make matters worse for opposing hitters, the southpaw had feel for his changeup, which flashed late fading action and arm-side run away from righties.
For Hall, it all started in the bullpen.
“I was throwing really good in the pen,” he said. “The ball felt like it was just jumping out of my hand really well.”
“I’ve had some success commanding my fastball lately, which is something that everybody wanted me to work on. So I’ve been working on that, and now that I have command of my fastball a lot better I’ve started throwing more and more breaking balls and changeups in the pen and just working on being able to locate my offspeed in the ‘pen before I go in.”
Hall said that he throws his changeup with a two-seam fastball release and a circle changeup grip. He repeated his arm action extremely well on all three of his pitches on Wednesday, giving deception to complement his explosive raw stuff.
The Rangers (Northeast) squad continued to impress on Wednesday. Nick Egnatuk (Immaculata High, Basking Ridge, N.J., went 2-for-4, hitting a hard fly ball to the left center field gap for a triple and a line drive up the middle for a single. The Rangers won again on Wednesday, and are now 3-0 at the event. Last year, the Rangers went 3-1 with a team that included three of the top 12 picks in the 2016 draft (Ian Anderson and Jason Groome).
Indians (Mid-Atlantic) infield prospect Noah Campbell (Cardinal Gibbons High, Raleigh, N.C.) batted exclusively lefthanded on Wednesday. Campbell was previously a switch-hitter, but told Baseball America about his righthanded struggles back in June.
Royals (Midwest) righthander Chandler Ferguson (Jefferson High, Lafayette, Ind.) showed improved velocity, bumping 94 mph with his fastball twice. He has a long, deep arm action that made it difficult for him to find his arm slot consistently, but he has excellent arm speed and some athleticism on the mound. On June 22, Baseball America recorded his velocity at 88-91. He touched 91 on June 25, but settled in at 85-88. Ferguson has some things to work on, but his arm strength gives him a chance to develop into a solid relief prospect at the pro level.
Rays (South Florida) lefthander Jordan Butler (Alonso High, Tampa) had a home game on Wednesday night. The Florida commit throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and gets late sinking action on his fastball. He also showed a long breaking ball in the low 70s. Butler got into a groove as he settled in, and struck out the side in order in his third and final inning. At Alonso, Butler plays for head coach Landy Faedo, the father of current Gator and potential first-round pick Alex Faedo.