The Braves added a little Ivy League flavor to the expanded September roster Thursday when they called up right-hander David Hale from Triple-A Gwinnett.
Hale, a Marietta native and Princeton University graduate was 6-9 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 games (20 starts) for Gwinnett, and seven of his last eight games were quality starts of six innings or more with three earned runs or fewer.
Added to the 40-man roster last winter, Hale, 25, impressed Braves officials during spring training before being sent to Triple-A with a couple of weeks left in camp.
In his last Grapefruit League appearance before getting sent down, he had three strikeouts with one walk in two hitless innings against the Marlins, including consecutive strikeouts after the Marlins got the potential tying run on third base with one out in the ninth inning.
“He’s got some good stuff,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after that outing. “Getting out of that jam… He’s got pitchability. He’s got some quality pitches. He elevated the fastball, he can sink it. He’s been impressive.”
Hale had 77 strikeouts with 36 walks in 114-2/3 innings at Gwinnett this season, after posting 124 strikeouts with 67 walks in 145-2/3 innings at Double-A Mississippi in 2012. He had one or no walks in five of his last seven starts for Gwinnett.
A third-round draft pick of the Braves in 2009 out of Princeton, Hale returned to school for consecutive fall semesters after minor league seasons ended in order to complete work on his degree in economics. He said his dream was to pitch in the major leagues, but he wanted to make sure he had a solid fallback option if it didn’t work out.
An infielder at The Walker School in Marietta, he signed with Princeton before his senior year of high school. After began pitching as a senior, he drew draft interest from a few major league organizations, though not early round interest.
“That was the first time I ever pitched,” Hale recalled this spring. “And I was like, I can’t give up going to (college) for that, in the rounds they were talking about. I wasn’t going to pass up (Princeton) for the amount of money they were talking about.”
Hale got his Ivy League degree, and now he’s going to have his chance to pitch in the major leagues for the team with baseball’s best record.