26. David Hale, RHP
B/T: R/R 2011 Age: 24 Ht: 6'2" Wt: 200
2010: (A-) 28 G, 7 GS, 93.2 IP, 4.13 ERA, 4.2 BB/9, 6.6 K/9, 0.1 HR/9
Every now and then I make a mistake, and sometimes I'm able to admit to it. I will admit that my ranking of David Hale last season was a mistake. At number nine, I clearly had Hale too high on the board, but just because I dropped him so low doesn't mean he's meat.
Hale was selected by the Braves in the third round of the 2009 draft out of Princeton, though he lives in Marietta. At college, Hale never put up great numbers, his lowest ERA being 4.43 and his lowest BB/9 being 3.64. However, the Braves saw solid stuff coming from his arm and a body projected for strength, and that much is clear.
The first stat worth telling with Hale is the line between starting and relieving.
In seven starts at A- Rome last season: 27 IP, 9.00 ERA, 14 BB, 15 K, .386 BAA.
In 21 relief appearances: 66.2 IP, 2.16 ERA, 30 BB, 54 K, .204 BAA.
The difference between relief appearances and relief innings shows Hale still pitched several innings at the time, but nonetheless, coming out of the bullpen means more effort on all pitches. Whether his unusual swing in success after going to the bullpen has to do with that, or stamina issues, or whatever, it is not certain. What is certain is he has been a completely different pitcher as a reliever so far in his pro career, and that means the Braves have to think about how to handle him going forward.
Hale has a strong body that seems good enough for starting. He has a good fastball, solid changeup and good enough curve to get by. He doesn't record many strikeouts, but he keeps the ball in the park, evident by only one homer allowed all season. He does need to work on control and limiting walks, which may also be attributing to the struggles as a starter. Whether he will make it as a starter, or if the Braves will even give him another chance, will be discovered in 2011. If he gets the chance, he needs to work on control and continue to keep the ball on the ground.
Three Things to Look For in 2011: 1) Starting Opportunities 2) Control 3) Working Toward AA
Destination in 2011: Majority at A+; could see decent time at AA
ETA: Late 2012 or 2013
Ceiling: #4-5 Starter
My Prediction: Spot Starter or Solid Reliever