In a piece I posted last Sunday, I linked back to an Organizational Leaders chart posted by Greg Fertel of Pending Pinstripes. Most were familiar names like Ivan Nova, Graham Stoneburner, Hector Noesi and David Phelps. All of them are pitchers we’ve already much about, that we have a good feel on who they are and where they fit in the Yankee organization. But one name that we’ve heard little about appeared 6 times in the 8 categories, only Hector Noesi appeared more often (7). So I wanted to see what I could dig up about this guy to get a better idea of who he is as a pitcher and what his future may hold.
His name is Shaeffer Hall. Lefthanded pitcher born on October 2nd, 1987 in Independence, Missouri. He’s listed at 6′ 0″ 180 pounds. He was selected by the New York Yankees in the 25th round of the 2009 draft out of Kansas University, where he pitched for the Jayhawks for two seasons. The two years he spent in college wouldn’t have given you the impression that he would be a top performer for the Yanks, despite throwing a no-hitter against Air Force in 2009. He posted a 4-2 record with a 5.13 ERA in his sophomore season, giving up 73 hits in 59.2 innings pitched. In his Junior year in the Big 12, he went 5-6 with a 4.18 ERA, again giving up more hits (104) than innings pitched (92.2). But what caught the eye of scouts who watched him was his stellar control, walking just 10 men that season (0.97/9). The thought was he was a victim of aluminum bats, that he would fare much better in pro ball, and they were right. Their first confirmation of this was his performance for the Falmouth Commodores in the Cape Cod League, where he went 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA in 18.2 IP over 14 appearances. After signing with the Yanks, he reported to the Staten Island Yankees and made a brief cameo, where he performed well in two short starts. He began the 2010 season in the Sally League, pitching for the Low-A Charleston Riverdogs. In 10 starts, he went 2-2 with a 1.85 ERA. But more impressively, he gave up just 52 hits in 68.0 IP and maintained the stellar control (1.45/9) that attracted the Yanks in the first place. That performance earned him a quick promotion to High-A Tampa, and he hasn’t disappointed there. Over 48.1 IP he’s given up 47 hits, and just 8 walks (1.48/9). He’s a fly ball pitcher, posting GO/AO of 1.41 in Charleston and 1.76 in Tampa this year.
So what’s he like? Here’s a scouting report on him from when the Yanks drafted him last year out of college:
I think Schaeffer will be the first Jayhawk taken on Wednesday afternoon. He was drafted out of HS in the 28th round by the Texas Rangers and after his freshman year of Junior College in the 23rd round by the Cleveland Indians. Hall has been on the radar of MLB scouts for several years. He is the rare and perfect example of a pitcher with very little velocity but with 3 solid pitches (a plus changeup), great command and great control. Coach Price likes to compare him to the ageless wonder for the Phillies, Jamie Moyer. Hall gives up slightly more than 1 hit/inning, doesnt get many strikeouts but he walks almost no one and keeps the ball down inducing a ton of ground ball outs and weak hits. Hitters rarely get a good look at a bad pitch and rarely make good contact with his pitches. Hall also has decent size and is a lefty.
Reports are that he’s a hard worker, reportedly losing 20 pounds in his short time with the Yankees. He throws a fastball, curve and change up. His fastball sits in the 87-90 MPH range, but can occasionally dip below that. He throws the change consistently around 76 MPH, and the curve around 74-75 MPH. Depth and lateral movement on his off speed stuff is above average, but also inconsistent at times. He works quickly and throws all three pitches for strikes, which is the key to his success. Here’s what his Charleston River Dogs pitching coach Jeff Ware had to say about him:
“He has great command of all three of his pitches. When he has all three working and keeping the ball down, he is on top of his game. He can strike you out and can induce lots of ground balls. Schaef is also well prepared and hard-working. It is a great combination.”
As a pitcher who works without blow-away stuff, he’s especially prone to getting knocked around on nights when he gets squeezed by the home plate umpire. So he relies on having precise command and control. Being Lefty raises his ceiling, but this is the type of pitcher who can at times stumble as he climbs the organizational ladder. As a college pitcher in low/high A-Ball, his polish can carry him. But as he faces better hitters it will remain to be seen if he can maintain his results, particularly his walk rate. He’s going to give up more HRs as he climbs the ladder, so keeping men off base is key. That’s not to say he can’t have a solid MLB future, Mark Buehrle and Jamie Moyer would fall into the same category that Hall does in terms of stuff. But the Yanks tend to hang on to the guys with big fastballs and high ceilings, and trade away guys like Hall. Andy Pettitte being a notable exception. If he ever gets a chance with the big league club, he’ll need to make the most of it like Andy did.