Football is over! Baseball is coming.
For some reason, there’s a handful of vocal Twitter followers of mine (@BrewerNation) who believe that I hate football. That’s patently untrue. I prefer baseball but that doesn’t mean that I hate football. That said, after
the Super Bowl the big game ended last night, I knew that we were firmly onto the countdown to pitchers and catchers, affectionately referred to ’round these parts as “P&C”. Let the record show that we’re a mere 18 days away from that most glorious of winter events. And if celebrating that fact is wrong, then I prefer not to be right.
The other countdown we’re firmly entrenched in — again, ’round these parts — is my annual time-passer until Opening Day which I can “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers”. For those just clicking on this column (or the blog in general) for the first time, the quick explanation is that I profile individual Brewers on a date the number of days away from Opening Day as they wear on their uniform during Spring Training.
Today is February 2 which just so happens to be 63 days away from Opening Day. The player who will wear #63 in camp just so happens to be…
“My guy” Steven Brooks Hall is someone who I’ve followed closely throughout his pro career following his selection in the 4th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Back then I decided to interview at least one draft choice per year of the Brewers on my painfully infrequent podcast. I zeroed in on Brooks Hall because of his name and when I saw that he had recently pitched a perfect game for T.L. Hanna High School in his hometown Anderson, South Carolina, I knew that there was a fun story to go along with standard interview questions. Brooks was gracious enough to connect and we’ve been friendly ever since, with me checking in a couple of times a year.
But enough about that backstory. If you want to know more about that stuff, click either the link above to my 2009 interview with him, and/or click here for last year’s BBtJN.
Brooks Hall is a 6’5″, 230 lb, right-handed starting pitcher who was first added to the Brewers’ 40-man roster following the 2012 season. He responded to the team’s confidence in him (and his increased physical maturity, training, instruction, etc) by posting his strongest numbers as a professional as he tore through the Florida State League with the Class-A Advanced Brevard County Manatees. In 10 starts (11 games), Hall posted a 2.78 ERA and other strong numbers earning a promotion to Double-A where he, understandably, went through an adjustment period. Again, all of that is outlined in last year’s column.
An eye on a big 2014 led Hall into Spring Training last year. He wanted to continue to impress and show that his Double-A time was just an adjustment. He broke camp with the Class-AA Huntsville Stars, making five starts in April and pitching to a 2.77 ERA in 26.0 innings. Although his strikeout rates were slightly down (small sample size, of course), Hall improved his Double-A numbers to High-A equivalent or better in his second turn at the higher level.
Unfortunately, the five April starts would be all she wrote for Hall in Southern League action in 2014. Hall injured his elbow and wouldn’t pitch again during the regular season.
The first thing I talked to Hall after the season was the injury and where he’s at. He told me at the time that he had gotten surgery to have bone spurs removed from his elbow. He had been pitching pain and said “(Having my elbow cleaned up) feels like I’m a teenager again.”
Hall would pitch in the Arizona Fall League in 2014, totaling 18.2 innings across eight games, two of which were starts. Known as a hitters haven, Hall kept his WHIP at 0.75 and struck out 13 against just three walks.
I caught up with Hall briefly at Brewer On Deck on January 25. He said he’s in good spirits and is anxious for the start of camp. He confirmed again that his elbow is in great shape.
Given the Brewers’ track record of moving players along slowly, it wouldn’t shock me to see Hall start the year at Class-AA Biloxi simply because he doesn’t have a ton of games at that level. That said, the Brewers are thin in high-minors starting pitching even with the recent re-signing of the now healthy Hiram Burgos. Hall could conceivably begin the year at the back of Colorado Springs’ rotation with a good camp.
I’m anxious to continue following Hall closely. I think you should be too.