Q&A With Oakland A's 8th Round Pick Kris Hall

During the second day of the 2012 MLB Draft, the Oakland A's selected several power right-handed arms out of the collegiate ranks. One of the first of those arms to be taken by Oakland was right-hander Kris Hall of Lee University, who came off of the board in the eighth round.

Hall, a junior, is coming off of his first season as a starting pitcher. He drew notice from scouts this year thanks to a plus fastball clocked as high as 96 MPH and a standout season during which he posted a 1.71 ERA in 100 innings. Hall struck-out 122 and held opposing batters to a .191 average.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Hall began his collegiate career near home at Cleveland State. After one season, Hall transferred to Lee University, which is home to a strong NAIA program. Hall's career took off with Lee, where he served first as the team's closer in 2011 and then became the staff ace in 2012.

Lee head coach Mark Brew sees big things in Hall's future.

"I think Kris' best years are ahead of him. He doesn't turn 21 until this week and the amount of use on his arm is minimum since he has been a reliever every year until this year," Brew told OaklandClubhouse after Hall was selected.

"He has a power type arm ranging from 91-96 with a firm slider and improving change-up. He is a great competitor with great work ethic and should be an asset to A's organization."

We caught-up with Hall not long after he was selected by the A's.

OaklandClubhouse: Congratulations on being drafted. Where were you when you found out that you had been taken by the A's?

Kris Hall: I was at home actually. I am from Cleveland, Ohio, and I was at my parents' house.

OC: What was your reaction when you got the call?

KH: I was actually really shocked. Even when it just started, when I first starting talking to scouts, it was all pretty surreal to me. It kind of came out this year. I thought I had a chance to be drafted, but to be mentioned in the top-10 rounds, it's pretty exciting.

OC: You transferred to Lee from Cleveland State and then spent your first year at Lee as a reliever. Was this a big transition year for you to move into the starting rotation and to have a second season with a program?

KH: Yeah. In the fall, I still had plans to be the closer. As the fall went on and I threw a couple of innings, Coach Brew started to wonder if I maybe wanted to try starting. It was a good transition. I think that I did pretty well. I'm pretty happy with it.

OC: How would you describe yourself as a pitcher to someone who had never seen you throw?

KH: I throw hard. I think the biggest thing that I do is that I work pretty hard. I don't think I would be anywhere in baseball if I just sat around. I compete pretty good. I prided myself in the fact that every start I made this year, our team won, even if I didn't get the decision. I'd just say that I am a pretty good competitor.

OC: Do you have a go-to pitch when you really need a swing-and-miss or you need to throw a strike?

KH: Besides my fastball, I would say my slider. It's a pitch that has come a long way. They call it a plus pitch, but I like throwing it in a lot of counts because it is a different look.

OC: Do you like starting better than relieving or is either role good for you?

KH: Being a closer is pretty exciting. It's always pins-and-needles when you are in there. It's not really your game. Most of the time you are in there to shut it down for somebody else. Those are two different animals. Starting is more of a pace, it's really a marathon. Closing is more of a sprint. You can come in for an inning and air it out. But I like starting and that is really where I would like to get a shot at.

OC: You threw over 100 innings already this year. How is your arm at this point? Do you feel like you could go out and throw for a full short-season schedule in the minor leagues?

KH: Yeah, I do. That was one of my concerns coming into the year. I had never thrown that much. But I was really pleased with how everything held up. I had a dead arm phase, and a lot of people knew that. But you can ask a 10-year guy in the majors and everyone hits a wall at some point. I went back out for the [NAIA] World Series and was low- to mid-90s again. I'm ready just to get out there to see what I can do.

OC: Have you always thrown hard or is that something that is relatively new?

KH: I didn't throw hard until I got to Lee. That is a testament to our pitching coach, Coach Moody, and to the trainers. Our trainer, Jeff Mullins, has been fantastic as far as strengthening and stuff. It all kind of came out of nowhere at scout day in the fall when I came out and was 93-96 [MPH]. The week before that I was 87-89. It is just a testament to the coaches that I had at Lee and the training staff.

OC: Do you have friends in minor league baseball already?

KH: I have some acquaintances who I have played with who I can talk to. I have three good friends in the minor leagues who were drafted last year from Lee – Shay Crawford, who plays for the Rays right now, Chris Grayson, who is in the Texas organization, and Jonathan Clark, who is in the Mets' organization.

OC: Have they given you a good feel for what it is like?

KH: Yeah, when I've talked to them, they've helped me out with what to expect and how it is going to be and the grind you are going to have to go through. It's been pretty helpful.

OC: What is the area that you want to work through the most when you turn pro? Is there a particular pitch you want to work on?

KH: It's not really a certain pitch. I have shown flashes of having plus pitches. I have shown flashes of having a plus change-up and a plus breaking ball and I have a good fastball. It's just a matter of getting consistent with all three of those and being able to throw them every time I go out there.

OC: Is your pitching repertoire fastball, slider, change-up?

KH: I sometimes throw a curveball in there too just for a change-of-pace. It's mainly just those three though.

OC: I know there is a negotiation period, but are you leaning towards turning pro at this point?

KH: Yeah. I was pretty set when the draft started. The main thing that I wanted out there was that I wanted to sign and I wanted the shot to be a pro player. You can't be sure, but I'm pretty sure I'll be playing pro ball sometime this summer.

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