The 2017 MLB draft is now just two weeks away, and the projections and mock drafts should be coming in bunches. Over the past few seasons, the Detroit Tigers have leaned heavily into the prep talent pool for their first round selections. In 2014, the Tigers selected center fielder Derek Hill, and with their first round picks the past two seasons they’ve selected a pair of electric high school arms in the persons of Beau Burrows and Matt Manning. That trend seems primed to continue.
ESPN’s Keith Law has just released his latest mock draft, in which Law has the Tigers selecting left-handed starting pitcher D.L. Hall with the 18th overall pick.
The Tigers would be thrilled to get the power lefty from south-south Georgia (trip, and you end up in Florida). He has top-five stuff but some minor makeup concerns that have pushed teams picking earlier to look at other prep arms.
The 6’, 190 pound Hall has been a Georgia high school standout the past few seasons, and returned to his original high school, Valdosta High, for his senior season. He’d transferred from Valdosta after his freshman year. For the past two seasons, Hall pitched for Houston County High, helping to a state championship in 2016. Hall is currently committed to attend Florida State University, but all reports indicate that there should be no issues signing him with the 18th pick and slot bonus.
Hall features a power fastball with good command, and solid fundamentals. He’ll sit in the low 90’s with the heater and can reach back for a little more. The life on the fastball is questioned by MLB Pipeline, but his command is advanced for a prep arm. Hall’s power curve is his most advanced offering, featuring a high spin rate, while his changeup is still under construction.
John Sickels of Minor League Ball has a lot of good to say about the curveball in particular, though a somewhat flat fastball has to be a minor concern despite good velocity and some projection remaining on his frame.
His fastball is 90-94 MPH with peaks at 95-96. There’s still some projectable athleticism in his body and a bit more velocity is possible down the line, but even at the current level he has enough. Multiple observers report that his fastball can be straight, but it plays up due to the contrast with his excellent curveball, rated by many observers as the best high school breaking ball in the draft.
Hall repeats his delivery pretty well for his age, though multiple reports suggest it’s with a little more effort than is optimal. He throws from a standard three-quarters slot, with a bit of crossfire action and a quick arm. As Georgia is a hotbed for high school baseball, Hall has pitched in a highly competitive atmosphere and has remained in prospect watchers’ sites for multiple seasons.
Several previous mock drafts, and MLB Pipeline’s own rankings, suggested that Hall would be unlikely to fall to the Tigers at eighteen. In the run-up to the draft, however, draft boards tend to continue fluctuate, so it’s still quite uncertain as to whether the Tigers will get a crack at him.
The highly advanced curveball for a high school left-hander, paired with outstanding velocity and perhaps more to come as his slender frame fills out, make Hall a pretty attractive option. Law’s new mock draft also suggests the Yankees as a potential landing spot for Hall with the sixteenth pick. Currently, he has them taking first baseman Nick Pratto. Law suggest that should the Yankees choose Hall’s arm over Pratto’s bat, the Tigers may be perfectly happy to adapt and select Pratto instead. As Pratto appears the most polished prep bat in the draft this year to most observers, that exchange would probably suit the Tigers just fine.