Welcome back to “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”, my blog series which countdowns to Opening Day by way of the numbers players wear during Spring Training.
Monday, January 27th is 63 days away from Opening Day on March 31st and as such we’ll preview the player who will be wearing #63…
No, not Tyler Thornburg. He wore 63 last year but switched to #30 for the upcoming season. The man who will be wearing #63 for Milwaukee during Cactus League play is…
Those of you who have been faithful readers will know about this blog’s relationship with Steven Brooks Hall. As a part of my desire to interview at least one draft pick each year, Hall was the guy I picked out of his 2009 draft class. We did the interview and agreed to touch base every so often throughout his career. Those interviews go up on occasion and hopefully you’ve gotten to know the player a little bit along the way.
I also had the pleasure of meeting Brooks in person for the first time when he was playing with the Class-A affiliate Wisconsin Timber Rattlers during the the 2011 season. The Timber Rattlers came to Miller Park for a home game and Brooks and I arranged to meet in person following the game. He signed a Major League ball for me that I bought for that purpose. The numbers he posted that season weren’t exactly what the Brewers were looking for, but they also weren’t only looking at the numbers. Hall, then 20, was still very raw having only pitched at the tail end of his high school career before being drafted directly from it.
Hall got the bump up to Class-A Advanced Brevard County to begin 2012 and again posted overall pedestrian numbers, especially given the pitcher-friendliness of the Florida State League. It was his second turn through Brevard at the beginning of 2013 that really showed the maturity he was gaining and that the work he was putting in was beginning to manifest itself.
The 6’5″ right-hander worked hard on getting, refining, and maintaining his delivery down the mound. His mechanics are an important part of his success (duh), but Hall had struggled at times earlier in his professional career with them. In those first 11 games of 2013 with Brevard (10 starts), Hall posted a 2.83 ERA, a 1.114 WHIP, dropped his walk rate, upped his strikeout rate, dropped his opponents’ hit rate, and in 58.1 innings pitched he only allowed one home run.
All of that and more added up to a promotion up the organizational ladder to Class-AA Huntsville. Hall had a rough second appearance with the Stars and he would later tell me on the phone that it was a challenge to adjust to the bullpen role which they had initially put him in as an attempt to limit his innings this past year. The organization quickly realized it and Hall would start his next five appearances before a pitching a two-inning Save on July 13th. He would start eight of his final nine appearances following that Save and finished the season with a 3.40 ERA combined.
December was then looming on the horizon for the Brewers. Having been drafted in 2009, Hall would be eligible for the Rule V Draft (long live the “V”!) if he wasn’t protected by being added to the 40-man roster.
Had he done enough to warrant that designation? Yes, in my opinion, but that wasn’t the right question. The right question was whether he had done enough that some other team would select him and the Brewers could possibly lose him for nothing. That was a clear yes and the Brewers did as much.
Hall will continue in his progression as a starting pitcher in 2014 and has high hopes for his season. He obviously won’t be making the 25-man roster out of camp this year, but that’s expected for someone at his stage. He still has developing to do.
As timing would have it, I was able to catch up with Brooks at Brewers On Deck yesterday. I didn’t want to keep him long so it’s just a couple of minutes, but you can hear in his own words some of the things discussed and more.