Prospect Profile: Scott Patterson

The news gets worse for Jim Leyritz
Selig extended through 2012

Scott Patterson | RHP

Patterson was born in Pittsburgh and raised a few miles away in the Steel City suburb of Oakdale. He attended West Allegheny High School and still holds the school’s single season strikeout record. He then headed to Allegheny College halfway between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, a school that has produced a handful of big leaguers (Pirates’ reliever Josh Sharpless is the most notable alumnus, I guess) and the insufferable Trent Reznor. He transferred to West Virginia State University after two years at Allegheny, and was outstanding in his two years with the Yellow Jackets. Patterson was named First Team All-Region and Conference Pitcher of the Year as a senior, and helped the team to the Conference Championship and the #1 seed in the NCAA Division II postseason tournament. Despite his exploits, Patterson went undrafted in 2002 and headed to the Independent leagues.

Pro Career
Patterson caught on with Gateway of the Frontier League and spent the next two-and-a-half years at the front of the Grizzlies’ rotation (the team is stationed outside of St. Louis). He led the Grizzlies to the 2003 Frontier League Championship in only it’s third year of existence, and went a combined 21-7, 3.58 ERA, 1.15 WHIP in 53 games with the squad. He was non-roster invitee to Mariners’ camp in 2004, but didn’t make the team and ended up back at Gateway.

Patterson moved onto Lancaster of the Atlantic League in 2005 (Lancaster is about 4 hours east of Pittsburgh), and left Gateway as the franchises’ all-time leader in games pitched, shutouts (3), and strikeouts (332). He also holds several individual records, like most starts in a season (20), shutouts in a season (2), strikeouts in a season (120, twice), and strikeouts in a game (13).

The Atlantic League is by far the most prestigious and competitive Indy league around, and it proved to be a tough challenge for Patterson. He went 4-2, 4.68 ERA, 1.43 WHIP in 28 games (9 starts) with the Barnstormers in 2005, and was traded (along with career Indy baller Joe Dooley) back to Gateway in July for future considerations. The return to Gateway was a blessing for Patterson, who served as the Grizzlies’ closer the rest of the season and went 27.1 IP, 21 H, 5 ER, 8 BB, 41 K with 9 saves.

Patterson returned to Lancaster in 2006 and remained in the closer’s role, going 23 IP, 12 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 31 K with 14 saves on the year. The Yankees purchased his contract from the Barnstormers on June 16, 2006 and assigned him to Double-A Trenton. Patterson continued working out of the bullpen, and had a fantastic pro debut, going 38.2 IP, 26 H, 10 ER, 8 BB, 44 K the rest of the season. He had gotten a second chance with a MLB organization and made the most of it.

The Yanks returned Patterson to Trenton in 2007, and he had a breakout year that put him on the prospect map. He threw 74.1 innings, giving up only 45 hits and 15 walks against 91 K on the year. He was bumped up to Triple-A Scranton late in the season as a reward, and tossed three perfect innings in his only outing with Scranton. The Yanks wanted Patterson to build off his success, so they shipped him to the Venezuela Winter League where he continued to do more of the same: 23.1 IP, 19 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 20 K. His season ended in late December when he went home to finally get some rest.

Patterson’s contract expired after the season (he originally signed a two year deal with Lancaster in 2005), but he was comfortable with the Yanks and agreed to a one year Major League deal to return to the club in late November. He was added to the 40-man roster, and became the first Gateway Grizzly and Lancaster Barnstormer alumni added to a ML 40-man in either franchises’ history. As a professional baseball player, Patterson’s career line is 565 IP, 488 H, 189 ER, 127 BB, 581 K. As a reliever that line improves to 189.2 IP, 124 H, 40 BB, 228 K.

Patterson is a giant on the mound, standing 6′-7″, 230 lbs. His fastball velocity is just average, sitting at 89-91 even out of the ‘pen, but it plays up because he throws on an extreme downhill plane and has excellent command of the pitch, hence the low walk totals. Patterson’s best secondary pitch is a big ol’ loopy curveball, a slow bender that is most effective when he uses it as a change of pace pitch. He’s worked with organization pitching guru Nardi Contreras on adding a slider, but that experiment failed and he’s now trying to learn a splitter. He has a deceptive, right over-the-top pitching motion – here’s the best clip of it I can find.

Patterson has certainly found his niche in the bullpen; he gives up about 2 fewer hits per 9 IP and strikes out about 4 more batters per 9 IP working in relief. He’s also said that he enjoys the role more and it helps him stay fresh over the course of the season. He’s been playing baseball professionally for six years now, so he’s got experience in all sorts of roles on all sorts of teams. He’s also supremely durable, and has never missed time with injury.

Patterson had a weird little ritual in college and Indy ball where he did a bunch of push-ups prior to warming up because he said it makes him feel stronger on the mound. I haven’t been able to find anything to confirm that he still does this, but if nothing else it gives him a mental edge. Oh, and Patterson also gets ginormous brownie points for having his own site, complete with a bad-ass little intro.

At 28 years old, Patterson is no spring chicken. He’s basically in his prime right now and has zero physical projection left. He’ll occasionally leave pitches up and over the plate (it’s hard to hit the bottom of the zone as a 6′-7″ pitcher coming over the top on a 15″ mound) and can be prone to the long ball (about one homer given up every 10 innings, although his HR rate has dropped big time since moving to the ‘pen). His GB/FB ratios are consistently well-under 1.00. Patterson’s delivery is very reminiscent of Brad Penny’s with a violent head jerk and a pretty big recoil. That’s typically a recipe for shoulder trouble.

2008 Outlook
Now that he’s on the 40-man, Patterson is closer to the bigs than he’s ever been. The Yanks will give him a real long look in Spring Training, and a big league bullpen spot is basically his to lose. If he doesn’t break camp with the Yanks, he’ll head to Triple-A Scranton and be among the first called up when the inevitable injury/suckiness strikes.

My Take
It’s hard not to root for a guy like Patterson – the ultimate underdog, a guy who’s had to earn everything he’s accomplished in baseball. Patterson is yet another example of the Yanks ability to mine the Indy leagues for talent, and it’ll be quite a sight if he and fellow former Indy baller Edwar Ramirez are ever warming up in the bullpen side-by-side for the $200M Yankees. Patterson is what he is, but what he is is pretty darn good. At worse he should be an effective middle man right away for the Yanks, but his pitching package and mentality could have him setting up games in the future. Scott Patterson is a great baseball story, and I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’m pulling for him to do well.

The news gets worse for Jim Leyritz
Selig extended through 2012
  • TurnTwo

    I honestly dont know much about him, but this gives me a good idea as what to expect from him going into Spring Training. Nicely done!

    the Yankees may not have that big name setup guy in front of MO, Joba aside, but theyve certainly got plenty of options to work with. While i think we’ll see a lot of the names that were in and out of the Bronx last year to break from camp, I think the bullpen under Girardi will be fluid, and a work in progress all season.

  • zack

    “it’ll be quite a sight if he and fellow former Indy baller Edwar Ramirez are ever warming up in the bullpen side-by-side for the $200M Yankees.”

    Especially b/c of their, um, differences in body type…

  • http://deleted Mike R.

    Good to have some fresh content instead of the same old stuff. With that in mind I think there was some information you could have added:

    – Has Patterson ever used steroids?
    – Has he injected Clemens with steroids?
    – Has he ever lied to congress?
    – Could we include him in a deal for Santana?
    – How about him and Melky for Damaso Marte?
    – Does this affect Joba’s role? Will he start? Will he be a set-up man?

    Just a few topics that we haven’t spoken about that should be discussed.

    • Ben K.

      Hey! We’ve only dealt with five of those six questions. Who cares if Miguel Tejada lied to Congress? He’s on the Astros now. No big deal. :)

      • Mike R.

        Point taken. I will submit a proposal for an ammendment to the previous post. Hearings should begin first quarter of 2009.

  • Yankee1010

    Thanks for the profile, Mike A. I think Patterson is actually back pitching in the round-robin phase (playoffs) of the Venezuelan Winter League. I think the guy needs a break as he’s well over 100 innings pitched since the beginning of the 2007 season.

  • Count Zero

    Nice writeup. I gotta’ admit I’m pulling for the guy too.

  • RPB

    His delivery reminded me of Hideki Okajima. Is has that herky jerky motion followed by falling off the mound. Hopefully, he can have similar success. any plans on working on a change-up?

  • rbizzler

    Great job Mike, I appreciate the profiles of some of the lesser-known quantities ‘down on the farm.’ I love his delivery as he has that inside-out arm action (don’t know what else to call it) that causes batters to jump back even though the pitch is headed toward the meat of the plate.

    This is going to be the most intriguing spring to watch in a long time with the mix of youngster position players like Montero, Tabata and Romine combined with the dogfight for the final spots in the big league ‘pen.

    Also, who is the dude taking video footage of Patterson off of his TV and posting it on youtube? The intertubes are truly a dumong ground of epic proportions…

    • rbizzler

      Whoops, meant to say ‘dumping ground’ not the ever-popular dumong ground. Carry on…

  • Bo

    Another different look in the pen.

    Which is real nice.

    I hope he does well because we really need the pen to be good and that means one of these unheralded guys need to step up.

  • Tripp

    I’d like to see footage of the loopy curve after the sharp over the top fastball. Even from the footage that fastballs looks as though it’s coming much faster.

  • dan

    So the pitching staff is…

    Wang, Pettitte, Hughes, Joba, Kennedy, Mussina, Mo, Farnsworth, Latroy, Britton, Edwar, ______. Is Patterson actually the next guy, or will they go with one of the vets they invited to compete? Patterson might have an advantage by virtue of just being on the 40-man roster already…. but then again, they might want a lefty. Who do you guys think will fill the last spot?

    • dan

      I forgot to include Ohlendorf on that, feel free to add him if you wish.

    • Realist

      IMO , a lefty is needed and it could be whomever is best of Igawa , Phillips and Wright. My hope is that Phillips shows at least something and get seasoning in the minors until/if he is ready for the bigs. He is 25 with good size and between Eiland and Nardy possibly could work out?

      I had read , elsewhere , that The Yank’s had been toying with making Wright a reliever. With his lack of more than 2 MLB pitches , it might be his best fit?

      Igawa seemed to do better with Nardy and Eiland’s help , so it isn’t out of the question that he could be used as a long reliever in the pen…stranger things have happened?

      • Mike A.

        Henn’s out of options. I have to believe he gets first crack the bullpen lefty gig.

        • Realist

          I agree about Henn and was supportive of him the last couple of years…I just don’t think he is the answer unless he has a huge turn around?

          • Mike A.

            If nothing else, he’s got a better arm and better stuff than any of Wright-Igawa-Phillips. He needs to build up some confidence, his stuff is good enough that he doesn’t have to nibble the corners. The last game of ’07 – when he made the start in Baltimore – he didn’t throw anything with any conviction. Chuck ‘n Duck all the way.

            • RollignWave

              if stuff only means throw harder than yeah he does throw harder but that’s about the only good thing left to say about him. even Igawa at least flashed a good (but very inconsistent) curve from time to time.

  • RobertGKramer

    Thanks! I needed that!! ( smile)

  • Realist

    Mike A.

    I had high hopes for Henn , as I said before , but he looked horrible most of last year. While I will conceede that this year’s coaching staff is superior…he is on a short rope. I hope he makes the turn aound as he does have a nice arm , let’s hope Eiland , Girardi and co and fix his flaws as we need a lefty set up man. Especially one that can close here and there. That is one point many are missing…Mo ain’t what he used to be and NY needs some others to pick up saves to keep him at his best. My fear is that Joba will be the one to do just that , weakening the team by keeping him out of the rotation.

  • RobertGKramer

    smiles = XHTML?

  • Art

    Joba needs to be in the Bullpen. With Wang, Pettite, Hughes at the front end of that rotation you figure there is at least 40-45 wins. Having the last 2 or 3 innings basically shutdown with Mo and Joba makes sense.

    You could argue a good set up man is just as important as a starter. I don’t trust Farnsworth or Hawkins in thir role