Recent Deadline Deals Bear Fruit
Typically, depth veterans like reliever David Phelps—sent to the Cubs on July 30 for Hatch—and first baseman Steve Pearce—dealt for Espinal in June 2018 to the Red Sox, where he was the World Series MVP—return lottery pick prospects.
In these instances, the Blue Jays believe they acquired a couple of players who will contribute at the major league level. When and how much is uncertain, but in protecting them from the Rule 5 draft, the club positioned both for near-term breakthroughs.
The 25-year-old Hatch pitched to a 4.59 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 100 innings across 21 starts at Double-A Tennessee, but he performed far more effectively at Double-A New Hampshire after the deal, posting a 2.80 ERA and a 0.76 WHIP in 35.1 innings over six starts.
He features a fastball that topped out in the mid-90s with a developing breaking ball and changeup.
"We’ve been very impressed with Tom’s advanced feel for pitching,” general manager Ross Atkins said. "He also has a delivery we feel is very athletic and will be repeatable. He’s shown us he has the weapons to get outs at the highest level, and has shown that consistently in a starting role. He’s a competitor, and we look forward to his continued growth.”
Espinal, also 25, batted .287/.347/.393 with seven home runs in 122 games between New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo this year while playing second base, shortstop, third base and center field.
"Santiago is a dynamic player with the ability to impact the game in multiple ways,” Atkins said. "From his versatility throughout the infield and in center field, to his abilities on the basepaths, to his strong approach and bat-to-ball skills in the box, we feel like he has the ability to provide impact in a number of areas.”
— Ken Huckaby was promoted to manager Triple-A Buffalo after three seasons as the system’s roving catching instructor. The popular and respected former backstop who briefly served as Roy Halladay’s personal catcher, managed at low Class A Lansing in 2015 and high Class A Dunedin in 2016 before transitioning to rover.
— Cesar Martin, the Florida State League manager of the year in 2019 for his work at high Class A Dunedin, was promoted to manage at New Hampshire.