Continuing a theme from last thread, David Hale is another piece of what figures to be a mix-and-match back end of the Braves’ rotation this year.
The Braves drafted Hale out of Princeton in the third round in 2009, and he began a slow but steady grind through the minor leagues. He never had a standout minor league season, but he improved his ERA each year from 2010 onward. At the end of last season, with the big club down to Kameron Loe and various other odds and ends as the #5 starter, Hale got the call-up to Atlanta in September. He responded by pitching an inspired two-game stretch in which he gave up just one run in 11 innings.
Small sample size theater led to some speculation that the Braves could trade him in a package to acquire an ace, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. David Hale, who finished his economics degree from Princeton over the course of a couple winters, would analyze the data and would likely be the first to tell you that David Hale is not a prospect. His strikeout rate has never been great and he gives up too many walks and too much contact for prospect status. Plus, he’s 26 and he’s debuted old at every level he’s been at.
But that’s not to say he can’t stick in the majors or that he can’t be very useful to the 2014 Braves. They’re going to need about eight starters this year to use in various combinations, and Hale’s going to get a chance to be a part of that. If he sticks, he’ll increase the stock of MLB Princetonians to 4, and I’ll let you Ivy Leaguers in the comments duke out whether that’s a lot or not. Here’s hoping he does, as the Braves have constructed a roster with very little room for error or injury, and the season could turn on factors like whether David Hale can pitch 100+ effective innings.