The Cubs announced Saturday that Victor Caratini and Thomas Hatch had been named the organization’s player and pitcher of the month for June. It was Caratini’s second consecutive honor and the first for Hatch, who is really gaining steam after a rough start.
Caratini, who’s been with the Cubs for the last two weeks or so, slashed .345/.384/.586 with nine doubles, four homers, 21 RBI, and 17 runs scored in 25 June games. While the average and OBP were slightly higher in May, the catcher slugged a bit higher last month. His consistency was evident in the fact that he tallied a .970 OPS in May and .971 in June.
The timing of his call-up was was particularly nice, as he’d logged 69 games this year at Iowa before his services were needed in the wake of Miguel Montero’s little bridge-burning escapade. The switch-hitting Caratini hasn’t yet made his presence felt in Chicago, but he’s only had 11 plate appearances thus far.
Hatch, the Cubs’ first draft pick last year, sat out the remainder of the 2016 season after pitching into the College World Series with Oklahoma State. Whether it was the time off or acclimating to a new level of baseball (he skipped straight to high-A Myrtle Beach), Hatch looked he might need to escape after a disappointing opening month. His ERA increased steadily over his first eight starts, eventually peaking at 6.27 following a four-run outing on May 17.
But then things started moving in the other direction, as Hatch’s eight most recent starts have been the exact opposite. The 22-year-old posted a 0.98 ERA with 22 strikeouts, six walks, and only one home run allowed in five June starts (27.2 IP), bringing his season ERA down to 3.43. And that’s taking into account a stinker in his last start of the month that saw him allow 8 runs (2 ER) in only two-thirds of an inning.
Hatch has struck out 9.2 batters per 9 innings and has really been limiting the walks lately. Though he has handed out 33 free passes on the season, 22 of them came in his first eight starts. That means only 11 in his last eight, which is good, I think. Depending on how the next few starts go and what happens above him, it wouldn’t be terribly surprising to see Hatch join former Pelicans teammate Adbert Alzolay at AA Tennessee before long.