In a minor swap the Chicago Cubs have sent RHP Thomas Hatch to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for David Phelps. While the trade likely won’t get much attention, it’s not impossible that Hatch can figure things out and reach the Majors.
The 24-year old righty was drafted in the third round of the 2016 draft, those he’s posted underwhelming numbers at Double-A this season:
100.0 IP, 4.59 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 93 K, 37 BB
It’s notable that he has improved his control from last season (BB/9 of 3.82 to 3.33) and he certainly has the ability to miss bats (13.2% SwStr%). His groundball rate has taken steps in the wrong direction, especially for a pitcher without above average control currently, showing that there could be home run issues in the future (especially if he’s pitching in the AL East):
- 2017 – 45.7%
- 2018 – 42.3%
- 2019 – 35.2%
If he can get that back up there’s some promise here, and this scouting report from MLB.com shows some of it:
In college, Hatch’s two main pitches were a low-90s two-seam fastball and a low-80s slider. The Cubs wanted him to focus on using a four-seamer and changeup to combat left-handers, but he took that too far in 2018 and got hit when he relied too much on the straighter of his two fastballs. On the positive side, his changeup was his best offering at times last year, and he showed the ability to sit at 93-94 mph and touch 96 with his four-seamer.
It’s possible he ultimately settles into a relief pitcher role, and given his age he could move quickly if the change is made. For now we’d expect the Blue Jays to continue to utilize him as a starter, but time will tell.
Either way the ceiling isn’t particularly high, but there’s enough to at least keep an eye on him.
Current Grade – C-
Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com, MLB.com