Editor’s Note: A.E. Schafer aka the red baron has once again compiled a rather impressive list of Cardinals prospects doing a write-up on 40 individual prospects. As a convenience to our readers, he releases the list in a couple big chunks so everyone can read about all of the prospects at once. While that is a convenience to all of us who eagerly await the arrival of prospect lists, it might not be as convenient if you are looking for a player’s particular scouting report. So, as a further convenience, we are putting the individual scouting reports in separate posts to make individual players easier to find. You can find the full lists on our 2018 prospect page here. —CE
#30: Jacob Patterson, LHP
6’2”, 200 lbs; Bats/Throws: Right/Left
DOB: 30 October 1995; Drafted Rd. 13 2017
Level(s) in 2017: Johnson City (SS)
Notable Numbers: 35.9% K, 23.3% K-BB, 1.93 ERA, 17.6% IFFB
So, what’s so great about this guy?
Jacob Patterson was one of my favourite picks the Cardinals made in the draft this year. Not in terms of feeling like he was one of the very best players, mind you — although I do think he’s very talented — but in terms of the player combined with the spot the club managed to get him. That combination, of a premium left-handed strikeout artist and the thirteenth round, is tough for me not to get excited about.
Patterson’s first couple seasons at Texas Tech were not good; he walked about as many hitters as he struck out, was way too hittable for a pitcher who’s always had plus stuff, and just generally kind of scuffled along.
And then, in his junior season, Patterson improved a little in his walk rate. He gave up just as many hits as ever, but with the drop in free passes he allowed fewer baserunners overall. It wasn’t a huge improvement, but it was improvement.
Oh, and also he started striking out a ton of batters.
Funny thing is, when he got into pro ball he struck out even more.
I don’t know what changed for Patterson heading into the 2017 season; he wasn’t on my radar before this past spring. But I do know that he broke out in terms of doing one very specific thing — missing bats — that also happens to be one of the most predictive qualities a pitcher can possess. And when he got to Johnson City, he didn’t slow down for a second. Which is interesting.
It’s a relief-only profile for Patterson; he’s got a deceptive, slingy arm action that looks very risky to me, but also makes him tougher to pick up, and a two-pitch arsenal that would suffer badly in multiple trips through a lineup, I believe. The fastball is pretty average in terms of velocity, though it does move when it’s up in the zone and is really tough to get on top of. The pitch that really separates Patterson out as a potential arm of great future interest is his slider. It’s a big breaker with great tilt, and when he throws it with conviction he’s able to completely overmatch hitters. Lefties have no shot, and the pitch is good enough he can backfoot right-handers with it almost as effectively.
Maybe the most intriguing thing about Patterson is that he walked far fewer hitters in pro ball than he did in college, even his quite successful junior season. This is a pitcher who is really just starting to come into his own, I believe, and already has one great weapon he can deploy.
If he’s good, it will look like: Pick your favourite low arm slot lefty with a great breaking ball. No, not Andrew Miller. Your most realistic low arm slot lefty with a great breaking ball. Tony Watson? Not a bad choice. It will be interesting to see if Patterson can add any velocity as he matures in pro ball, but even if he doesn’t he has a chance to have an impact. Personally, I think back to how much fun Tyler Johnson was back in the 2006 playoffs. Patterson’s slider is close to that.