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Rockies prospect rankings: No. 18 Jordan Patterson had a breakout year

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While he trailed off in the Arizona Fall League, Patterson had a spectacular year at the plate.

Jen Mac Ramos

Prior to the 2015 season, Jordan Patterson eluded praise from scouts and national attention from prospect observers, a distinction that is not shared by any of the prospects above him on this edition of the Purple Row Prospects list. It's not hard to see why Patterson evaded attention: He'd been older than league average every step of the way entering this year and playing next to top prospects.

The 23 year-old lefty outfielder (he turns 24 next month) was Colorado's fourth round pick in 2013. Though Patterson hit well against Rookie ball and Low-A competition in his first two professional years (128 wRC+ and 121 wRC+ respectively), he was older than the average prospect in both leagues. In addition, it was easy to forget about the 6'4" Patterson due to the presence of highly touted prospects David Dahl and Raimel Tapia in the outfield. Entering 2015, Patterson profiled as an outfielder with the power and hit tools to fit as a corner outfielder or a first baseman, but who was unproven against higher level competition. Scouts, therefore, relegated him to a lower tier prospect status (AAAA/reserve outfielder).

In 2015, Patterson was a revelation—a true breakout player for the Rockies minor league system. In 339 plate appearances for High-A Modesto, Patterson hit .304/.378/.568 (153 wRC+) with 48 extra base hits as a player who was still a little old for the level. The Rockies promoted Patterson to AA New Britain in mid-July, and, finally below league average in age (16 months younger), Patterson continued to rake for the Rock Cats. In 202 plate appearances in Double-A, Patterson produced a .286/.342/.503 line (143 wRC+) with 26 extra base hits against more advanced pitching.

So impressive was Patterson's tear through High and Double-A that the Rockies placed him in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Unfortunately, Patterson ran out of steam in a small sample size (63 plate appearances), with a .157/.317/.196 line (59 wRC+). The encouraging part of that stint was Patterson's 14.3% walk rate—patience he did not exhibit during full season ball (5.5% between the two levels). The low walk rate during the season combined with his elevated (24%) strikeout rate still leave me a little skeptical with Patterson, but he's put himself squarely on the major league radar.

Patterson's breakout year helped place him on MLB.com's Top 30 Rockies prospects list (at 21). Here's what they had to say about Patterson:

When Patterson first arrived on the scene, there were many moving parts to his swing, but he has since cleaned it up, which lets his excellent bat speed work for him more consistently as he's more direct to the ball. That's allowed his hit tool to improve and enabled him to start tapping into his considerable raw power, with more to come. He runs well and isn't afraid to steal a base and he has a strong arm from right field that allowed him to pile up 14 assists in 2014, all while also seeing some time at first.

Patterson continues to see nearly all of his action in the outfield corner spot, where he could eventually profile as a prototypical athletic right fielder.
Patterson did start spending more time as a first baseman in New Britain and again in the AFL, indicating that he could be a potential solution for the Rockies (or at least a platoon partner/reserve) at both that position and at the corner outfield slots. As I stated before, Patterson's low walk/high strikeout combo led me to be lower on him than most of the electorate, with a placement of 25 on my personal list. With that said, Patterson's a prospect I'll be keeping a very close eye on in terms of near-term depth for the Rockies as soon as late 2016—especially if he is promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque prior to the season. Another strong campaign from Patterson would lock up a 40 man roster slot for him after 2016 in advance of the Rule 5 draft, if he's not already on the roster by then.