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.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.