It Started In Triple-A For Hall

Hall takes the mound on Friday night

TRENTON, NJ - Rewind back to July 4, 2011. It is a Monday, and 6-foot-1, 205-pound left-handed pitcher Shaeffer Hall is about to partake in Triple-A action for the first time in his career. After recently being promoted from the Double-A Trenton Thunder, Hall will start for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees as they take on the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Hall pitches a superb game, earning the win after giving up two runs on five hits and no walks while striking out three over 6 and 1/3 innings.

Two days later, Hall is sent back to Trenton to create roster space for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Lee Summit, Missouri native plays the rest of the 2011 season in Double-A, finishing with a 10-8 record and 4.12 ERA.

Nearly a year since his terrific performance for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Hall is in Double-A for the second consecutive season.

This year Hall has been one of Trenton's most consistent pitchers, giving up three earned runs or less in eight of his first nine starts. Through 56 and 1/3 innings, the University of Kansas attendee has struck out 29 and walked eight en-route to a 4-4 record and 3.51 ERA.

Hall had his best start of the year on Sunday when he got the win against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats after pitching 8 and 2/3 innings. He gave up three runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out three.

"So far, the season has been going well," Hall said. "But this has only been a month and a half into the season. There is a lot left to go. I have to be able to prove that I can do this for an entire season and not just for a little bit of time."

The Thunder coaching staff has been impressed with Hall for reasons that go beyond his solid stat-line.

"I can't say anything bad about the kid," Trenton manager Tony Franklin said. "I really like his demeanor and how he goes about his business. He knows what he's capable of doing and doesn't try to do much more than that."

Hall's most noteworthy skills have to be his ability to mix up pitches and throw strikes consistently. The description may be cliché, but such a classification couldn't be more fitting for the lefty.

The southpaw's arsenal includes a four-seam and two-seam fastball, changeup, cutter and curveball.

"There is not really one pitch I'm most confident with," Hall said. "I feel really confident with all five of them.

"I think there are some days when one of my pitches might not be as good as another, but I feel like it's key to have five quality pitches that you can get guys out with.

"It's especially important because when you face guys in the lineup for a second and third time, and they haven't seen one of your pitches yet, [you can be] effective going later in the game."

Although Hall may not possess an over-powering arm, — "he is not a strikeout pitcher," as Franklin puts it — he makes up for his lack of a blazing fastball by doing other things well.

"Shaeffer is a crafty left-hander who can pitch in and out and pitch backwards," Trenton pitching coach Tommy Phelps said. "He can throw any pitch in any count. His delivery is solid and he repeats his release point. He controls the running game well, he fields his position well.

"For me, his best pitch is his array of pitches but it always comes down to commanding his fastball, which is something he does really well. So guys have to respect that and that makes his secondary pitches even better."

Franklin believes Hall has the ability to excel above Double-A right now and that the reason why he began 2012 with Trenton has little to do with his skill-set.

"He started the year in Double-A probably because of numbers, nothing more than that," Franklin said. "I think he is very capable of pitching at the next level. But it pretty much is always a number game because you can only carry a certain amount of guys.

"But again, it doesn't matter where you pitch. You have to pitch well, which is what he's doing. And when you do that you have a chance to get the call."

Hall seems to be heeding his manager's advice.

"My mindset going into this year was to be in Triple-A," Hall said. "Obviously that is something that is out of my control. The only thing I have control of is how I do on the field and another year of experience here doesn't hurt."

Looking back on it, Hall could have allowed his demotion last year to discourage him and negatively affect his performance.

But instead, the 24-year-old has taken his Triple-A appearance and used it to his advantage.

For one, he has been using the extra time with Trenton to fine-tune certain physical aspects of his game.

"I think having another year of experience at this level has been huge because I know how to pitch a little bit more," Hall said. "I've been working on trying to throw more downhill and through the ball. I think by doing that it'll make my changeup more deceptive and I'll get a little more swings and misses."

But the most significant part of his brief Triple-A stint is the mental edge he brought back with him to Trenton.

"I learned a lot at Scranton…," Hall said. "Going up there gave me confidence for when I came back down here to pitch. Being able to get those guys out up there makes me feel like I can pitch at that level and the big league level. And hopefully I can get back there sooner than later."

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