They met at spring training in 2019, and the bond was almost immediate. Grayson Rodriguez was 19 and DL Hall was 20, and they gravitated toward each other because their throwing programs often overlapped.

Looking back, five years later, Rodriguez describes it as a “pretty competitive relationship,” because he and Hall pushed each other each day. But they also picked each other up, supporting each other through the grind of a minor league season and, eventually, the turbulence of adjusting to major league life.

Hall was in Rodriguez’s wedding. They hunted together. They talked and dreamed and hoped of a future in which they would become fixtures in a big league rotation.

That future has arrived. Rodriguez is one of Baltimore’s most promising pitchers, and with each start he shows his potential to become an ace. It arrived for Hall, too — except it took a trade to the Milwaukee Brewers for the breakthrough to occur.

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“You obviously hate to lose a friend, but this is a business and it’s going to benefit him in the end,” Rodriguez said. “It’s better for him, for sure.”

This weekend, when the Brewers arrive at Camden Yards, Hall and infielder Joey Ortiz will return to the stadium and organization they spent their entire careers with until February, when the prospects were the centerpieces of a trade that brought right-hander Corbin Burnes to Baltimore.

They all know this is the way the business operates — a phone call from the general manager, a sudden move across the country, a new set of teammates.

For Hall and Ortiz — and the Orioles they left behind — the trade brought a certain sense of sadness. They left who and what was known. But almost immediately the excitement arrived, knowing an opportunity awaited them.

“I feel like I know how this business goes, and you’ve got to be ready for anything,” Ortiz said. “It’s tough leaving friends behind that I came up with, but it was definitely exciting to be with a new team.”

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Much of that excitement comes from the prospect of playing time that awaited Ortiz and Hall upon their arrival in Milwaukee. Hall won a place in the rotation during spring training. Ortiz broke camp on the opening day roster, too.

They both made their major league debuts with the Orioles, but their paths were largely blocked. A trade, then, freed them.

“I hate to see them go, but I know it’s for the best for their career,” infielder Gunnar Henderson said. “That’s ultimately what I’m most happy about. They deserve to be in the big leagues, and they’re ultimately getting that.”

Ortiz was the victim of a talented farm system loaded with infielders. He debuted last year, playing 15 games for the Orioles, but he didn’t stick. Now he’s hitting .300 in 10 games for the Brewers, receiving more concentrated playing time than ever before at this level.

DL Hall is getting a chance in the Milwaukee rotation after working in the Baltimore bullpen last year. (John Fisher/Getty Images)

Hall mainly featured as a reliever with Baltimore in 2022 and 2023 but has made two starts for Milwaukee, with another slated Saturday at Camden Yards. Catcher Adley Rutschman knew Hall was capable of earning a starting role, be it with the Orioles or elsewhere. He caught him frequently in the minors and continued that duty when they both were in the majors.

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The fastball velocity, paired with a standout changeup, slider and curveball, played well to Hall’s relief role — especially late in 2023, when he posted a 3.26 ERA in 18 relief appearances. But Hall always envisioned himself as a starter, and the trade has given him that chance.

“You want him in that position because he’s going to get a chance to start,” Rodriguez said. “He’s gonna be one of their guys. He’s going to be an important piece in their organization. Same thing with Joey. Obviously, there are a lot of infielders in this organization, so he’s going to get a chance to play at the big league level every day, ’cause he’s more than capable of doing that.”

As Baltimore continues bolstering its roster, more of its prospects may be used to acquire talent. For many years, players in this talented farm system have grown up together. Now, two of those highly rated prospects will return to Camden Yards in visiting colors.

That reunion will be equal parts heartfelt and funny. “Talking trash will be the big thing,” Rodriguez said, and he’s excited to see his longtime friend in person.

Then he remembered their new dynamic. “Hopefully we beat him,” Rodriguez added. That would certainly help with bragging rights.