As we continue our daily look at the best prospects across the Chicago baseball landscape, today we look at Chicago Cubs #14 prospect, Thomas Hatch.
Thomas Hatch, the Cubs current 14th overall prospect, was taken in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of Oklahoma State University last June. The Cubs came into last June’s draft with no picks on day one of the draft due to free-agent signings last offseason, but had a plan, take as many pitchers as they can.
A system that features an excellent amount of home grown positional talents both at the major-league, and minor league level, was in need of an infusion of arms in their farm system.
“Our focus was to identify pitching, power pitching, guys who have preformed in college, guys we think can come in and make and impact on the organization,” Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod said. “Understanding where we were in the Draft and where we were standing, we feel good after Day 2.”
The Cubs entered the draft looking for arms, and they got them, seven of them to be exact. The Cubs used seven of their eight selections in the 2016 MLB Draft on pitchers. The first of them was Hatch, a big right-hander with a power arm.
Hatch, 22, stands at six-foot-one and 190 pounds, not the exact definition of a “big guy” by professional sports’ standards, but Hatch has been described as a horse, more for his stamina than his size albeit. Hatch tossed three consecutive shutouts at one point during his senior year at Oklahoma State University, and would be named the Big XII Conference Pitcher of the Year by season’s end.
After missing all of the 2015 season with a strained ulnar collateral ligament that didn’t require surgery, Hatch rebounded magnificently in 2016, pitching to a 7-2 record with a 2.16 ERA. Hatch struck out 102 hitters over the course of 16 starts in his final collegiate season. Hatch also tossed 23 consecutive scoreless innings for the Cowboys in the NCAA College Baseball Playoffs, leading them to the College World Series in 2016.
As far as the injury in 2015 is concerned, Cubs Senior VP of Scouting and Player Development, Jason McLeod is not concerned.
“We’re aware that it’s in the past, but we’re confident he’ll be healthy going forward,” McLeod said. “It’s always a risk, but knowing all the factors and getting to know the player and how he competes every week, we felt very good to get him there.”
Hatch changed his delivery after the injury to a 3/4 arm slot, which he has been able to maintain consistently since, and has added life to his pitches. Hatch works in the 91-94 miles per hour range with his fastball, which can reach 96 miles per hour. Hatch is not a swing and miss pitcher, but has the stamina to keep his fastball breaking and sinking into the late innings, and induces a significant amount of ground balls.
Hatch has a breaking ball that sits in the low-eighties, and he is able to command it on both sides of the plate, as well as a solid changeup. Overall Hatch is not going to miss a substantial amount of bats, but he will keep the ball on the ground more often than not, and he will work deep into ballgames.
Hatch did not pitch for the Cubs minor-league teams in 2016 after a deep run into the College World Series, but will begin his professional career this spring. Hatch will likely spend all of the 2017 and 2018 seasons at the minor-league level, before potentially seeing the Cubs major-league roster sometime in 2019. Hatch profiles to be a middle of the rotation starting pitcher at this point, and should give the Cubs a much needed arm in the rotation in two years when they will need it the most.