With president Mark Shapiro admitting the Toronto Blue Jays are still firmly focused on improving the pitching staff, we pick five prospects fans should keep an eye on.
Even though it is still unclear if and when the 2020 MLB season will take place, it hasn’t stopped organizations from wondering how they can improve their roster. The Toronto Blue Jays are no different in this respect.
As reported by Jason Wilson of theScore, president Mark Shapiro’s recently made his number one priority extremely clear: “Pitching, pitching and more pitching.”
One way the Blue Jays can improve this position is from within, courtesy of their prospects. With this in mind, we decided to consider which ones have the best chance of helping the club at the Major League level.
One player we won’t include on our list is Nate Pearson, who is the Blue Jays’ top rated prospect and already in line to be promoted as soon as is feasible. With that said, lets count down the five pitching prospects fans should watch out for:
5) Thomas Hatch
How acquired: Trade with Chicago Cubs in July 2019
Best pitches: Fastball & slider
To give some idea of Thomas Hatch’s pedigree and mental fortitude, consider his play in 2016 for Oklahoma State University. Returning from an elbow injury which caused to miss all of the previous year, he helped his team advance to the College World Series.
Hatch’s play was outstanding, as he went 9-3 with a 2.14 ERA and 112 strikeouts along with just 33 walks in 19 starts. As a result, he was quite rightly named the Big 12 Conference Baseball Pitcher of the Year.
It was this form which explained why the Chicago Cubs selected the 25-year-old in the third round of the 2016 draft. However, he had to wait until the following year to make his professional debut and the early results were mixed, as he only managed a 5-11 record in 26 Class A-Advanced Carolina League starts.
Fortunately for Hatch and the Cubs he improved in his next season, while playing in the Class AA Southern League. He went 8-6 in 26 starts and recorded a 3.82 ERA over 143.2 innings, resulting in Southern League All-Star honours.
The Tulsa, Oklahoma native’s form took a startling dip at the beginning of 2019, as he went 4-10 in 21 starts in the Southern League and had the worst ERA of his professional career. However, after being traded to the Blue Jays he improved during six starts of Double-A ball, highlighted by a 2.80 ERA and only 0.51 walks per nine innings.
Even though Hatch is only ranked fifth out of the pitching prospects on our list in terms of long-term upside and overall projected success, he is actually best-placed to have the earliest impact in the Majors. With his combination of maturity and ability, he will get his chance with the Blue Jays if and when the 2020 season starts.
Projection: Fourth starter or reliever