Tom Hatch threw a complete game shutout to open the CWS

Thomas Hatch Looking to Take Fast Track as He Debuts in Cubs System in 2017

My introduction to Thomas Hatch came in the 2016 College World Series. The young right-hander threw a complete game shutout against the University of California at Santa Barbara, during which he showed great command and control of his pitches throughout the game. But that’s all I saw of him last year. After pitching 131 innings in college, the Cubs shut Hatch down for the rest of the season. He did show up in fall instructs and garnered rave reviews from Arizona Phil and John Arguello.

hatch-77-2016-instructsIn an article on MLB.com, Cash Kruth described the prospect’s 2016 season:

Hatch is a horse. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound right-hander tossed three consecutive shutouts this spring to earn Big 12 Pitcher of the Year honors. That stretch, as well as a season in which he went 7-2 with a 2.16 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 16 starts, alleviated concerns after he missed all of 2015 with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament that didn’t require surgery.

When I saw him in the CWS, I had this to say of the 3rd round pick:

He has a four-pitch repertoire that includes a fastball, slider, changeup, and sinker, and is known more for pitching to ground ball contact than for getting strikeouts.

When working from the windup, Hatch stands straight with his hands at his waist and throws from a three-quarter arm slot. When he goes to the stretch, he gets in this little Virginia-type crouch that I think takes away some of his command and velocity. I saw him several times come in on the hands of right-handed hitters to jam them up. I also like the fact that Hatch is not afraid to move the ball around the zone.

Out of all the pitchers in the Cubs system in 2017, Hatch is the one I most look forward to seeing because he’s the one I’ve seen the least to this point. And it’s about more than just stuff. In addition to his physical skills, many have praised Hatch’s mental makeup. That’s not as easy to pick up through the MiLB.tv feed, but you can tell a lot about a pitcher by how he works handles in-game adversity and works with his catcher, among other things.

Current Info

Starting pitcher
6-1, 200 lbs
Right-handed
21 years old

Strengths

Big 12 Pitcher of the Year
Threw 131 IP in 2016 after missing 2015
Nice four-pitch mix
Goes deep into games

Areas of Concern

Missed all of 2015 with a sprained UCL but did not have surgery.

hatch-65-2016-afiWhat’s Ahead for Hatch in 2017

I have seen reports that he should be at either South Bend or Myrtle Beach, but I think he should start with the latter group. So, in all likelihood, the Cubs will put him at South Bend. That’s how my luck and prescience go.

What I would like to see

I just want to see Hatch pitch as advertised. If he can do that, it would not surprise me to see him pitch at two levels this year. The Cubs have yet to fast-track a starting pitcher in the Theo Epstein Era, but Hatch could be the first one based on his repertoire, command, and control. I don’t know if he’s going to be the ace that I think he could be, but know he can be a very good pitcher. And by “very good” I mean a number three or four starter.

It would be outstanding if Hatch can repeat those 130+ innings from last season. When he was drafted, I thought he might be a notch above Trevor Clifton. In reality, that would still make him a pretty good arm, something the Cubs need more of when it comes to starters.

 

Cards made from Fall Instructs pictures by John Arguello

About Todd Johnson

During the day, Todd teaches US and World History in a small town in northern Illinois. As a Cubs fan, his first baseball memories are of Ernie, Billy, and Fergie. Baseball cards, Strat-O-Matic, and fantasy baseball eventually followed. The summer of 2017 will find him spending most of his days watching the South Bend Cubs throughout the Midwest and Great Lakes. You can always find him on Twitter: @cubscentral08

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