Sophomore slumps happen often enough in the Majors that the term has become commonplace.
It can happen at Triple-A, too, even in the hitter’s paradise that is the Pacific Coast League.
The Albuquerque Isotopes have a good example of that in Jordan Patterson, who has gone from a .293/.376/.480 hitter last season to a .214/.289/.428 mark entering Tuesday’s game against El Paso.
“Obviously, I take pride in what I do,” he said. “I have an idea of hitting and how I go about it. I kind of stick to that (plan) I have since I was in college and (started) in pro ball. That’s what’s made me good, is being that type of hitter and knowing what I’m good at.
“Stuff happens, things change and I don’t know why it happened, maybe it was something subconsciously that happened, but it happened and it threw me off a little bit. It’s my job to evaluate it with an open mind and not with a closed mind, like a biased mind. I need to work from it, ask questions and see what I need to do to continue to become a better hitter.”
Patterson has done his best to remain his usual, upbeat self, but it has become clear that the extended slump has begun to gnaw at him.
“Obviously I need to change,” he said before going 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI in a 9-6 victory over the Chihuhuas on Tuesday. “Hitting .220 in Triple-A for my second year is not good enough. I have to make a change, physically or mentally, or whatever it may be, so that’s what me and (Darin Everson) and (Glenallen Hill) have been working on. Just making a change to getting back to what I do good.”
Everson, the Isotopes’ hitting coach, has begun to see subtle signs that Patterson may be on the verge of breaking out of his funk.
“Especially lately, we’ve really gotten into a good level of consistency with his (pregame) work,” Everson said. “I think you’re starting to see more more consistency with harder hit balls in games now. I think that he’s on that cusp, one of those things where it could be better. He had a decent May. I think he’s on the cusp of having a great June. I think that if he keeps working the way he’s working now, he’ll be in a good spot here soon.”
Everson noted that Patterson has been hitting the ball harder of late, only for those would-be hits to find gloves instead of grass. Patterson called the louder outs “encouraging,” but he won’t let that change anything about his approach before and during games.
“I’ve got to make sure I stick to the process,” Patterson said. “I can’t get caught up in results, (because) results will drive you crazy. That’s not the type of player I am. I can’t let the baseball gods and the results of the game bring me down and dictate how I feel. I’ve got to stick to what I do best and continue to play.”
The rest of the Isotopes, from the coaching staff to the other players, have done their best to keep encouraging Patterson and pushing him forward, he said. It is something he truly appreciates in a game that can often be more businesslike than fraternal.
“Even (Monday) night, I had another night where I hit a couple balls on the screws and two feet to the left or right, I’ve got two knocks,” Patterson said. “G texted me after the game, told me to stay the course, sent me a (positive) quote, stuff like that. He doesn’t have to do that. He did that for me because he cares. You find some people that only worry about their selves, but he actually cares. All these guys care. That’s the cool part of this team, is people really do care about you. That’s why we’re good and that’s why we get along.”
Patterson and the Isotopes will continue their series with the Chihuahuas tonight at 7:05.