Self scouting report: Blue Jays' Thomas Hatch

May 4th, 2020

Thomas Hatch could not have made a stronger first impression with the Blue Jays.

The 25-year-old right-hander was acquired by Toronto from the Cubs ahead of the Trade Deadline last year in exchange for David Phelps, and he spent his final six starts and 35 1/3 innings of the season at Double-A New Hampshire.

With an improved pitch mix that included adding in more sinkers to complement his four-seam fastball and going to his changeup more regularly, Hatch not only held Fisher Cats opponents to a .205 average while posting a 0.76 WHIP and more than doubling his groundout-flyout ratio to 1.83, he also walked only two batters in that final month while striking out 34.

“It’s like the chicken and the egg,” Hatch said. “Did the confidence create the good results or did the changes that I implemented? It was just both. They fed off each other. I was able to find consistency with the changes I made so all of a sudden I became confident.”

Before play was suspended in order to combat the spread of coronavirus, Hatch got into four big league Spring Training games in Dunedin, Fla. Though the introduction of Toronto’s No. 24 prospect to Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo was short-lived, he quickly made his mark.

“He was impressive,” Montoyo said during Spring Training. “That’s a good arm. He’s one of the reasons I like this camp -- arms like that. He looked really good. … It makes me happy to see an arm like that.”

Evaluating himself using a Major League Scouting Bureau report and the 20-to-80 scouting scale, basing his grades on the standards set by the Bureau, Hatch offered a picture of what his future might hold.

Top tools
The Oklahoma native offered above-average future evaluations of his fastball, changeup and slider, citing future improvements in his intangibles to help him get there.

“The development of my fastball in pro ball has been up and down and all over the place,” Hatch said. “I came in from college exclusively sinker ball, the Cubs noticed higher spin rates and wanted me to become a more four-seam guy, creating more swings and misses. Over the next couple years I experienced some difficulty in my command. When I got traded to the Blue Jays, and a little bit before that, I started implementing more sinkers. The two play off each other very well.

“Then the slider, the Cubs wanted me to develop a curveball which wasn’t ideal -- it was really slurvy, but I needed to shorten up my slider to use both effectively. So it becomes shorter, harder, and then I became a fastball-slider guy for a bit. And when I came to the Blue Jays they emphasized my changeup a lot, which I always thought was one of my better pitches but it got put on the back burner at times. When that pitch came out, it started opening doors for pitch usage and all of a sudden my walk rates went down, ground-ball rates went up and I was able to throw different pitches in different counts.”

Room to improve
Hatch jumped his curveball and his control each a full grade, moving his breaking ball from a below-average offering to an average one in the future, and upgrading current average control to becoming above average.

“I made some big transitions last year when I came to the Blue Jays and that showed in the numbers -- I walked two guys that last month. I’m closer to the future than I am the present number that I put down but that’s for the whole year. And the curveball is relatively new. There are a lot of things I can take away from people to help improve that as a legit pitch [because] right now it’s a show-me pitch.”

Scouting the scout
Offering insight into his own game and grades, the young hurler feels as though he knows himself pretty well but hadn’t before broken down the details so particularly.

“I’ve been around baseball for a long time and I’ve sat down with scouts and I feel like I know myself pretty well,” he said. “But this is so detailed it shows how little I do think I know. I’d be interested to see what scouts’ thoughts are and compare them.”

What the scouts say
“Arm works fine, balanced delivery, and he threw well when I saw him, he’s got good stuff,” said a National League evaluator who saw Hatch before the trade. “He has three solid pitches and he’s around the plate with all of them. He pounded his sinker down in the zone for strikes, mixed in an average fading change and threw a tight slider for strikes and late chases. He has a legit arsenal with athleticism.”

What’s missing
“Reports like these are hard to see intangibles,” Hatch said. “You could see tangible things from me when I was with the Cubs, and they could be completely the same as when I was with the Blue Jays, but there was an obvious difference in the month I pitched with the Blue Jays and the two years I pitched with the Cubs. A lot of it was upstairs. A lot of pitching is confidence and mental toughness, and that’s hard to grade and hard to explain.”