Chris Hatcher: from catcher to major league pitcher in less than a year

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The Marlins’ Chris Hatcher made his major league debut last September as the team’s third catcher, going 0-for-6 in five games.  Today, he’s rejoining the team as a reliever.

Hatcher, a 2006 fifth-round pick, decided to make the switch to the mound after hitting just .197/.274/.283 in 354 at-bats between Double- and Triple-A last season.  He was a career .211/.290/.364 hitter in the minors, and even as a strong armed catcher, that’s not the kind of line that’s going to lead to much action in the majors.

So, Hatcher showed up this year as a full-time reliever and went 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA and a 39/15 K/BB ratio in 35 innings for Double-A Jacksonville, earning him his promotion today.  It’ll probably be a short-term assignment — the Marlins were able to send down Brad Hand and go to four starters with the All-Star break coming up — but the choice of Hatcher suggests the team sees a future for him in the major league bullpen.  He throws in the low-90s consistently, and he’s already come up with a halfway decent slider.  If he refines it, he might turn into a quality setup man in time.

Adrian Beltre cleared for extended spring training

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Adrian Beltre has been on the disabled list all year because of nagging right calf strain, but he’s about to take a big step toward getting back to action.

Beltre has been cleared to begin playing in extended spring training games. He’ll commence them tomorrow at the Rangers facility in Surprise, Arizona. After three games the team’s doctors will reevaluate him. If things go well, he’ll likely be sent off for a full minor league rehab assignment.

Joey Gallo has filled in for Beltre all season, bringing a lot of power but not much else to the table. While Beltre is 38, his all-around game would be welcomed back on the field and his leadership would be welcomed back in the Rangers clubhouse. On a personal note, Beltre is only 58 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.

Barring a setback, he’ll be back with the big club in early June and will hit the milestone eventually.

Michael Bourn opts out of his minor league deal with the Orioles

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Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.

Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.

As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.

Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.