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Oklahoma State in MLB: Thomas Hatch strikes out 3 for Blue Jays in MLB debut

The former Cowboy had success utilizing his changeup more.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Hatch is officially a Major League Baseball player.

The former Oklahoma State standout did not allow a hit, struck out three and walked two in 2 13 innings for the Blue Jays in his MLB debut in a 6-5 loss in 10 innings to the Rays on Sunday at Rogers Centre.

Hatch, who was acquired from the Cubs for veteran reliever David Phelps on July 30, 2019, started to throw his changeup more often after working with former Double-A pitching coach Vince Horsman in New Hampshire. It paid off Sunday as Hatch threw three of his seven strikes with the off-speed pitch. The other four strikes came on three fastballs and one slider.

“I always had the changeup,” the right-hander told media. “In high school it was my second-best pitch, it was fastball-changeup as opposed to fastball-slider. I get to college, and we went predominantly fastball-slider, so it got put on the back-burner. When I got to pro ball, you obviously need more pitches, so that started to be a focal point first year, and then I got away from it.

“When I came over to the Blue Jays, it started to become a focal point and they said throw it as much as you can, don’t even use it as a complementary pitch. That was huge, because I can throw it any count, and it plays my fastball up, as well. So there are a lot of thing that’s helped out with.”

Hatch, a Jenks, Oklahoma native, started his debut by forcing a pop out to third base from Ji-Man Choi, striking out Brandon Lowe with a changeup, but two straight walks led to a mound visit. He then only needed one pitch to get Kevin Kiermaier to ground out to second to end the inning. Hatch settled in and retired the next four batters and exited after Mike Zunino went down looking at a 94 mph fastball to start the third.

“The best thing I can take away from it is that everything translates to this level,” Hatch said. “Sometimes there’s that doubt going from minor-league ball to the big-leagues, but I was confident. Even getting my feet wet this spring and facing big-league hitters was a big step I (realized) that I can get these guys out. Coming into today, obviously there were nerves that first time, but being able to know I did it in spring, and even in this shortened spring we just had … really helps ease you into it.”

Hatch is among three former OSU players on MLB rosters, joining left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Heaney of the Angels and infielder Jordy Mercer of the Tigers.