14. Jordan Patterson (490 points, 32 ballots)
Let’s put this in perspective first: with eight hits and a walk in 19 plate appearances in a MLB cup of coffee in September 2016, Jordan Patterson has produced 0.1 more rWAR than the vast majority of prospects will ever contribute. The 25-year-old lefty outfielder/first baseman has long been overshadowed as a prospect in Colorado’s system by more heralded names, but he’s an intriguing player in his own right.
Patterson has consistently hit well in five years as a professional, never posting an offensive line that wasn’t clearly better than league average (his lowest wRC+ is 121). Until hitting Double-A, Patterson had always been old for his league, but he didn’t stop hitting as the competition improved—and that includes his two seasons spent at Triple-A. Despite this, he’s also never been the best outfield prospect on his own team and hasn’t gotten a ton of notice because until recently he’d always been old for his minor league level.
In 2017 for Albuquerque against pitchers who were on average 1.4 years older, Patterson produced a .283/.348/.539 line (124 wRC+) with 65 extra-base hits in 542 plate appearances. That doesn’t tell the whole story, as Patterson’s first half line was just .273/.343/.508, but in the second half Patterson improved to .299/.354/.588. Patterson even corrected the platoon splits that had plagued him in 2016: he hit .287/.347/.519 against southpaws and .282/.348/.545 against right-handers.
Despite the consistently strong production, Patterson remains overshadowed among fellow young outfielders David Dahl and Raimel Tapia, both of whom are ahead of him in the pecking order for a Major League role. Most damning was that Mike Tauchman, a lower-regarded prospect (at least by the scouting community), was the player given a major league call-up when the need arose. Indeed, Patterson never appeared in a major league game in 2017. I think that’s ultimately a reason why some PuRPs voters opted to drop Patterson on their lists.
Jeffrey Paternostro of Baseball Prospectus placed Patterson among the top 20 prospects in the system:
[Patterson has] spent over 1000 PA in the PCL and doesn’t have much left to prove there, although he hasn’t exactly forced the issue either, given Albuquerque’s clime. He’s also been a victim of a multiyear outfield playing time crunch that made it hard for better prospects to break through, and that won’t abate in the near future either. It also doesn’t help that the platoon-ready Patterson doesn’t really have a role on the lefty-leaning Rockies 2018 roster. Patterson will be 26 and could use a change of scenery where his lefty pop and more-hit-tool-than-you’d-think can find a home as a platoon/bench bat.
Patterson is 13th in the system on MLB.com’s list:
Six-foot-4 with long arms, Patterson has worked diligently to shorten his left-handed swing since turning pro. He has succeeded, though his line-drive stroke means he doesn’t always take full advantage of his bat speed and strength. He has done a better job of hitting the ball in the air in 2017, showing that he may have enough power to play every day in the Majors.
Patterson moves well for his size and offers some defensive versatility. His strong arm makes him naturally suited for right field and he’s fully capable in left field and at first base as well.
In that report, Patterson’s top tool is his arm (60), but he boasts average or tools all-around except a 45 run evaluation.
2080 Baseball gave Patterson a realistic role of 45 and a Brad Hawpe comp on their report in February 2017 (Patterson was 8th on their system preference list):
Patterson is a wirey, athletic kid with significant present strength and still has some physical projection despite the fact that he will play all of 2017 at age 25. The actions are all very smooth and he has good balance at the plate, and while he does have a long swing, he has above-average bat speed. He has a good feel for the strike zone and will see some pitches, but does have some swing and miss, particularly up in the zone, and the approach is a bit pull-centric. He has long levers, but his hands are quick and can hammer the ball in on him. He has plus raw power and it does translate in games as he gets excellent carry on his line drives and fly balls.
Patterson profiles well on the corner in the outfield and he’s also spent time at first base, providing average defense at all three spots. He has above-average arm strength, which is an asset in right field, and he moves well enough as an average runner to be able to range into the gap. ... There are a lot of similarities here to former Rockie Brad Hawpe (OF, MLB 2004-2013, multiple teams), with Patterson having a touch less power and slightly better hit tool.
Here’s some video on Patterson courtesy of the Baseball Census from this April:
Patterson has already been to the Show and did quite well in his short stint there. All he can do is continue to hit well at Triple A and force his way into the consciousness of the Major League decision-makers. With a crowded major league outfield situation in Colorado, Patterson must continue to mash wherever he’s placed and hope for an opportunity to prove himself in the Show.
Patterson is an athletic corner outfielder with a plus arm who has dabbled at first base to increase his positional flexibility. His left-handedness and platoon tendencies don’t help his cause given the glut of potential contributors hitting from that side of the plate, but he’s a potential impact bat for the Rockies. I ranked Patterson 13th in the system and think he could be a strong depth contributor for the Rockies in 2018 should the need arise.