Showcase | Story | 6/18/2016

PG National's Hall of fame

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Joy Absalon

FORT MYERS, Fla. – If he were walking down the street, sitting down with friends for lunch in the Houston County (Ga.) High School cafeteria or hanging out with his buddies on a football Friday night in Warner Robins, Ga., it would be tempting to describe D.L. Hall as nondescript.

It’s not that he doesn’t cut a fine figure where ever he’s at or whatever he’s doing. It’s just that at a prominent amateur baseball scouting event like the Perfect Game National Showcase that is winding down its six-day run at jetBlue Park this weekend and into Monday, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound left-handed pitcher from Georgia has to do something a little special in order to stand out.

And doing something a little special has seldom been a problem for Hall, which makes the senior-to-be at Houston County High anything but nondescript. He got in one inning of work at jetBlue on Friday before the rain arrived in gallon drums, but managed to show the more than 100 scouts, college recruiters and other talent evaluators an easy delivery that produced a fastball that set 92 to 94 mph and topped out at 95, and a sharp and deep curveball that came across at 75 mph.

“This was my first showing in front of all the scouts this summer, and I felt like everything was good,” Hall said Friday. “I just think it’s a great experience and great exposure for the players, and being the first event of the summer, I think it’s huge.”

If Hall, a Florida State commit, was hoping to get noticed he had succeeded. He had made a name for himself performing on the Perfect Game summer and fall travel ball tournament circuit, but was also named to the Top Prospect List at last year’s PG Junior National Showcase at jetBlue Park. The PG National is the third major showcase event the 17-year-old Hall has attended, with the third being the East Coast Professional Showcase in Tampa late last July.

“I was out here at the Junior National last year, and I had a lot of fun just being able to showcase my talents in front of so many scouts,” Hall said. “I think it’s a great deal here the way they get a lot of kids exposed to a lot of scouts; I think it’s great.”

Nearly 300 of the top prospects from the high school class of 2017 were here for three-day stretches during the PG National’s stay at jetBlue and Hall ranks among the best. He came in holding down the No. 7 position in PG’s national rankings and was the highest-ranked Georgia prep in attendance.

It’s not his fellow Georgians that Hall is all that interested in seeing, anyway. He saw plenty of the Peach State’s best while helping Houston County HS win the Georgia Class AAAAA State Championship this spring, the school’s second state title in three years. He’s at the PG National to broaden his horizons.

“It’s fun being around a lot of guys you don’t know, but they have special talents as well; it’s fun getting to see them showcase,” Hall said. “There are a lot of guys out here that are just fun to watch them play ball. You learn a lot of things out here. Some players from different areas have a little bit different personalities but you get to meet new friends and adapt to everyone that’s around you.”

Hall has been omnipresent at PG WWBA and PG BCS Finals since debuting at the 2013 14u/15u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational with the Georgia Jackets National. He played in nine PG WWBA and PG BCS Finals tournaments with Robins Warner-based Chain Baseball and president/head coach Andy Burress in 2014 and 2015 – he also played in a handful of tournaments for MBA Pride Elite in 2014 – and enjoyed a terrific run with the Chain National 16u team last summer.

From June 25 through July 1 and then from July 10-17, Hall was an all-tournament team performer on a Chain National 16u squad that compiled a combined 16-2-1 record at the 16u PG BCS Finals here in Fort Myers and at the 16u PG WWBA National Championship in Cartersville, Ga.

Chain National won the PG national championship at the 16u PG BCS Finals with a 9-0-0 record and with Hall pitching a complete-game, four-hit shutout with eight strikeouts in a 2-0 championship game victory over Team Elite Prime 16u.

Hall was 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 11 innings of work at the tournament, and was named tri-Most Valuable Pitcher with Chain National teammates and right-handers Anthony Locey (a 2015 PG All-American) and Zack Brockman. Chain National 16u finished 7-2-1 at the 16u PG WWBA National Championship after a third-round playoff loss.

“I enjoy travel ball thoroughly, just playing with some of my best friends,” Hall said. “Winning a (PG) national championship and pitching in the championship game, it was such a thrill. With baseball, I have so much love for the game and it’s just fun to play.”

He continued his thoughts on making a run to a PG tournament championship: “It can get really tiring playing that many games (in a short time) but it’s also so much fun. The guys enjoy it, and if you have a team around you where everybody enjoys playing it doesn’t matter how many games you play – everybody’s still having fun.”

Toward the end of last summer Hall made the decision to play for Voorhees, N.J.-based Tri-State Arsenal, and was with the Arsenal at the 16u Perfect Game World Series, the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship (he was named to the all-tournament team) and at the PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla.

Despite the move to the Tri-State Arsenal, Hall has remained close to Burress. In fact, it was Burress who accompanied him to Southwest Florida this weekend when Hall’s parents weren’t able to make the trip. Burress told PG that Hall is a “great kid” and he’ll always be considered a part of the Chain Baseball program regardless of whose uniform he’s wearing. And Hall’s very descript talent has always been there for everyone to see.

“We knew he was special the whole time he was coming up, and we tried to work on some things like his command of the fastball and some different stuff,” Burress said. “I wouldn’t say his success has surprised me because you could see the athletic ability, and you knew he was going to continue to get better. And then, of course, he goes out and the first pitch he throws today is 95 (mph).

“He works hard, and it’s one of those that’s just crazy where you expect it but you don’t always know. We’ve had several good ones that have come through the program and I don’t think it’s a surprise but it’s been fun to see.”

Hall hasn’t ever worked with any specific pitching coach up to this point in his career, but now that he has established a relationship with Tri-State he’s looking forward to working with legendary New Jersey Legion coach Joe Barth. In fact, he’s already started working with Barth over the last couple of months and said he can already see some improvement in his pitching.

“It’s been a big deal to me to see (his game) progress to the maximum ability that I can have,” he said. “It’s huge that I continue to develop, especially during my last year of high school baseball before I go off to college or get drafted or whatever. My main thing on the mound it just to continue to develop consistency.”

D.L. Hall wrapped up his stay at the PG National Friday night and could return home to Georgia safe in the knowledge he had done his part to impress the scouts in attendance; he could also feel pretty good about his chances of being invited to the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego in mid-August. The Classic’s two 25-man rosters will be announced during MLB All-Star Game festivities in San Diego on July 13.

“Perfect Game has done a lot for me,” Hall said. “(It has) played a huge part in the exposure that I’ve gotten. When I was younger I didn’t play very much Perfect Game, and then when I started playing it and started to see all the scouts that come to all the events, it really helped me.”

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