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Prospect Retro: Bill Hall

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Prospect Retro: Bill Hall

Here is a guy I was completely wrong about.

Bill Hall was drafted in the sixth round in 1998, by the Brewers out of high school in
Nettleton, Mississippi.. He hit just .176 in 29 games of rookie ball after signing. His tools were well-regarded, but he was rather raw and at this point there was nothing that really stood out about him as a prospect. I didn't put him in the book, and he'd rate as a Grade C guy....a young baseball player who might or might not develop.

Hall remained in rookie ball in 1999, hitting .289/.329/.421 with 19 steals in 69 games for Ogden in the Pioneer League. He showed good athleticism and speed, but his strike zone judgment was shaky and it was unclear if he would be able to hit at higher levels. Grade C.

Promoted to Beloit in the Midwest League in 2000, Hall hit .262/.287/.370....he knocked 30 doubles, which was impressive. But he stole just 10 bases in 21 attempts, and he posted a horrendous 18/127 BB/K ratio in 470 at-bats. Very few hitters with ratios that poor develop into useful properties at higher levels. The only things that he had going for him at this point were youth and athleticism. . .he was in desperate need of more polish. He hit the ball on the ground a lot and grounded into 12 double plays despite his speed. I'd have rated him a Grade C- prospect.

Hall moved up to High Desert in 2001 and seemed to blossom, hitting .303/.350/.529 in 89 games, with 15 homers and 18 steals. His strike zone judgment improved substantially (22 walks, 78 strikeouts in 346 at-bats). But this is High Desert, and I was very skeptical that his progress was genuine. He hit .256 after a promotion to Double-A in late July, but his strike zone judgment was dreadful. . .5 walks, 46 strikeouts. I saw him in the Arizona Fall League that year, and he didn't look very good to me. His bat seemed rather slow, his swing awkward, his strike zone judgment poor. He did show good actions on defense, and better baserunning skills compared to '00. I gave him a Grade C+ in the '02 book, writing that "Hall has a chance, but his bat reminds me more of Lou Collier than Robin Yount."

Hall skipped ahead to Triple-A in 2002 and was completely overmatched, hitting .228/.272/.301. I saw him play for Indianapolis, and his plate discipline was terrible. . .he swung at everything, and when he managed to make contact it was weak contact, dribbly ground balls, weak popups and such. He continued to make strides on defense, but I was convinced that he would never develop as a hitter. I gave him a Grade C in the '03 book but I was skeptical that his tools would ever transition to skills.

Hall returned to Indianapolis in 2003 and performed better, hitting .282/.335/.407. His strike zone judgment was more effective, and he hit the ball with more authority. He hit .261/.298/.458 in 52 games for the Brewers. . .his .458 SLG in the majors was the highest of his career outside of High Desert to that point. I was very surprised that he did this, to be honest.

He struggled in the majors in '04, but had a solid year in '05 and is doing well this year. His strike zone judgment has improved from horribly dismal to adequate. . .he'll likely always strike out a lot, but his walk rate is now OK and his power has certainly developed. He has made major progress turning his tools into skills, more progress than I would ever have expected based on what I saw in the '01 AFL and in Triple-A in '02.

I have no firm grasp on what the future holds for Hall. What do you guys think?

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