Name: Kris Hall
Height/Weight: 6’3’’, 215
How Acquired: Selected in the 8th round of the 2012 draft
In an organization not known for having pitchers with plus velocity, Kris Hall and his high-90s heater stand-out. The right-hander was tough to hit with Double-A Midland this year. Can he cut down his walks and take the next step towards the big leagues in 2016?
Hall was part of the A’s prospect-laden 2012 draft class, coming to Oakland in the eighth round out of NAIA Lee University. A starter at Lee, Hall moved to the bullpen during his first full pro season and has been primarily a reliever ever since.
Kris Hall Stats
Hall’s first full season with Low-A Beloit was slowed initially by injuries. He made only seven appearances (two starts) during the first half of the season and had a 7.97 ERA at the All-Star break. Hall settled down the second half of that year, posting a 3.03 ERA in 32.2 innings. He struck-out 39, but walked 20, and his season-end ERA was 4.92.
In 2014, Hall moved to the California League, where he had an up-and-down year. He posted ERAs under 2.50 for the months of May, June and August, but struggled in April and July, from an ERA perspective. Cal League hitters found Hall very difficult to hit, as they batted only .210 against him and struck-out 77 times in 56.2 innings. Once again, walks were an issue for Hall, however, as he issued 38 free passes. He finished the year with a 4.29 ERA.
In some ways, the 2015 season was more of the same for Hall. His ERA with Double-A Midland was significantly lower than it was in Low-A and High-A (2.50), but his struggles with command continued. Hall walked 53 in 72 innings for Midland, but he was able to mitigate that damage by holding Texas League batters to a .220 average and striking out more than a batter an inning (74). Hall also allowed only four homeruns despite being a flyball pitcher.
The A’s sent Hall to the Arizona Fall League, where he threw an additional 10.2 innings. His ERA wasn’t pretty (6.75), but Hall allowed four of his eight earned runs in his first two outings. After those two outings, Hall had a 4.15 ERA. His fastball was reportedly clocked as high as 99 MPH at the AFL.
A’s minor league pitching coach Steve Connelly served as Hall’s pitching coach this fall on the Mesa Solar Sox. Connelly says that Hall made some adjustments that should help him make that next step in 2016.
“What has improved for him is his delivery. He has always had a max-effort, herky-jerky type delivery,” Connelly said. “Hall has really worked hard on getting to the point where he has smoothed his delivery out and has found a good rhythm to his delivery and he is repeating it more. Therefore, he is finding better results with it. His stuff is down in the ‘zone. When he elevates, he elevates effectively instead of just always being elevated. He can throw that ball with a good angle and then all of a sudden come with a good leverage fastball at the belt or above and it plays off of it instead of everything being up and guys just whacking at it.”
Kris Hall, 2015 Arizona Fall League (video by Kimberly Contreras)
In addition to the fastball, Hall has a sharp breaking ball that is a knee-buckler when he is throwing it well and he has an improving change-up. His delivery has been a work-in-progress throughout his career, but Hall made strides on improving his mechanics during the Texas League season and then continued to refine those changes this fall. A’s Assistant General Manager Billy Owens says that the improved mechanics have given Hall’s fastball a couple extra ticks in velocity.
"This year in the Texas League, the velo was more consistently in that 95 range and touched 96 and a little bit more at times,” Owens said. “He has got talent with a swing-and-miss fastball when he is throwing well. The magnitude of his stuff has increased.”
There is no question that Hall has the stuff to be a seventh or eighth inning guy in the big leagues. He has the velocity, a secondary pitch that can be an out-pitch and the ability to miss bats. The biggest question for him will be whether he can find a delivery that he can be consistent enough with to command all of his pitches. He turns 25 midway through next season and should get his first significant look in Triple-A at some point in 2016.