Pipeline Q&A: Cubs right-hander Thomas Hatch

March 7th, 2018

MESA, Ariz. -- As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training camps, we'll sit down with prospects and get to know them a little better. At Cubs camp, it was No. 7 prospect .
The Cubs selected Hatch in the third-round of the 2016 Draft, but promptly shut him down, citing his heavy workload in college. The right-hander made his professional debut in 2017 and posted a 4.04 ERA with Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. The Cubs had him improve his arsenal, working on a changeup and adding a four-seamer after he relied heavily on a two-seamer and a slider in college.
Pipeline report from Cubs camp
:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::
MLB Pipeline: Because of your college workload, the Cubs shut you down after the Draft in 2016. Making your debut in full-season ball can be a challenge. What was 2017 like for you?
Hatch:  It was a tough in a way that I was thrown into the fire. I didn't know what to expect competition-wise. You go in with no experience. I was a little overconfident, I feel like, and I was humbled quick because that's how the game is. I felt like I made some good adjustments and finished the season strong and had a good month in the middle of the season.
MLB Pipeline: You were tasked with working on a four-seamer and refining your changeup last season. What is your confidence level with those pitches now?
Hatch: We saw that most guys, especially lefties, kind of ran into my two-seam, and the four-seam kind of kept them off [balance]. Also, it's a little bit easier to command the four-seam, especially glove side. That definitely added to the repertoire. Now the thing is going to the other side of the plate with both. Typically, I would go arm side with the two-seam and glove side with four-seam, and now we need to flip that. With the changeup, lefties had a little bit of success against me last year, so continuing to develop that will be huge, especially getting into the upper levels.
MLB Pipeline: Compare the first half to second half? You had a great June.
Hatch: When it's going good, it's going good, and there's not much to think about, and then you're going through struggles, and all of a sudden you start thinking about it again. Sometimes it's just part of baseball. The first part of that year was mainly getting adjusted and getting comfortable. I felt the more I went on, I got better. I had a little bit of a struggle at the beginning of the second half. I felt I finished the year strong and made some adjsutments.
MLB Pipeline: Numbers went down a bit during second half. Did you tire any since it was your first full season?
Hatch: I really didn't. I felt great at the end of the year. The second half, I could only go five innings [in each start], no matter what my pitch count was. Obviously, with my arm history, they want to keep me healthy. That was the main concern. I know they were happy with the workload.
MLB Pipeline: Now knowing what a full season is like, how did you approach this offseason? Any different than past offseasons?
Hatch: Yeah. I took classes, and I was able to hang out in Stillwater [Oklahoma] and work out there. I've got 15 hours more [to finish his degree in finance]. It was definitely different. The concern is staying healthy, so the arm health aspect is definitely an area of not concern, but focus as well as getting my body strong so I can go 130 innings.
MLB Pipeline: How beneficial has Spring Training been, getting to be around the veterans? What's been the biggest thing you've learned so far?
Hatch: Just to be around the guys and see how they go about their business, that was the goal. Obviously, I'm not going to make the team out of camp. Just to see how they go about it and take it to wherever I end up and see the adjustments they make in-game and see what they're thinking about out there, too. Growing up, you're not around them and you see them as kind of superstars and it kind of humanizes it. They make mistakes, too. It's just how they adjust and how quickly they get to those adjustements.
MLB Pipeline: Your locker is between and -- that's good company.
Hatch: It's two studs. They're both kind of quiet guys, but both very diligent in their work. I can watch and from time to time, I'll pick their brains, too.