Orioles add Gunnar Henderson and DL Hall to taxi squad
CLEVELAND -- As rampant success found Gunnar Henderson, he was showing the baseball world his expectations needed a recalibration. That is, they needed to be loftier. Starting the year as perhaps an uncertainty for Opening Day 2023, his mastery of the Minor Leagues started to turn hopes fully towards an expected regular contributor.
Turns out, Henderson can beat even those high expectations laid out for him.
The Orioles will add both their top prospect Henderson (No. 2 per MLB Pipeline) and their No. 6 prospect, left-hander DL Hall to their taxi squad ahead of Wednesday's tilt with the Guardians in Cleveland, sources told MLB.com on Tuesday, adding additional sparks to try and fuel a postseason push. A team three back of the final Wild Card spot now gets to add one the highest-regarded youngsters in the game in Henderson, still just 21, and a flamethrower in Hall to round out its roster.
The exact plan for activating each is not yet clear, but it stands to reason that Baltimore will do so when rosters expand from 26 to 28 on Thursday. The O's will have to clear a 40-man roster spot for Henderson.
Henderson, who for much of the season was the youngest player at Triple-A when promoted in June at 20 years old, compiled a .947 OPS with 19 homers in 112 games across Double-A and Triple-A this season. Such performance began to seed curiosity about whether he could beat the expectations and debut in 2022, adding another darling of the top-rated farm system to the Major Leagues.
A natural shortstop who hits left-handed, Henderson figures to get the lion's share of reps at third base given the emergence of Jorge Mateo at short, possibly setting up a platoon with Ramón Urías. Henderson, though, was tasked with making his first career starts at second and first base before his callup, and it remains to be seen how flexible the club wants him to be during his first go in the big leagues.
As for Hall, he made his debut on Aug. 13, a spot start that then saw him immediately demoted to transition to a relief role for the stretch run. Despite some hiccups in doing so, the Orioles remain steadfast in their belief he can propel the team this season while managing workload for 2023. True to form, Hall struck out 11 batters in 6 2/3 innings in his new role, albeit walking four.
Just before news of their promotions broke on Tuesday night, Henderson rattled off three hits and stole a pair of bags for Norfolk, while Hall closed out the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Very soon, they could mimic such results in Baltimore.