When the Cubs took Corey Patterson with the third overall pick in
1998, he was supposed to be a cornerstone of their future success.
Instead, the Patterson era in Chicago ended with a whimper on Monday,
as the Cubs traded him to the Orioles for two Class A prospects, second
baseman Nate Spears and lefthander Carlos Perez.
Patterson, 26, was the Cubs’ only homegrown regular in 2005,
but he was also a major disappointment. A stubborn hitter who has been
unwilling and/or unable to make adjustments, he hit .215/.254/.348 with
13 homers, 34 RBIs and 15 steals in 126 games last year. His .602
on-base plus slugging percentage was the second-worst among big
leaguers with at least 450 at-bats. Patterson has considerable strength
and speed, yet his performance has yet to come close to his tools. The
Cubs are culpable as well, as Patterson never made many strides hitting
lefthanders, bunting or controlling the strike zone while he was being
rushed through the minors. His lack of accountability also hasn’t
helped. Patterson stood out the most on defense last year, playing a
good center field while showing a strong arm for the position. He’s
arbitration-eligible after making $2.8 million in 2005. A career
.252/.293/.414 hitter with 70 homers, 231 RBIs and 86 steals in 589
games, Patterson projects to start in center for Baltimore this year.
Spears, 20, was a 2003 fifth-round pick out of a Florida high
school. He helped high Class A Frederick win the Carolina League
championship in 2005, batting .294/.349/.429 with six homers and 41
RBIs in 112 games. He doesn’t have a standout tool, as he’s a steady
defender with solid speed and a slap-hitting approach. Spears, who has
played some shortstop in the minors, projects more as a utilityman than
as a regular. He has batted .286/.368/.416 with 12 homers and 97 RBIs
in 265 pro games.
Perez, 23, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 1999 and
spent his first four pro seasons in Rookie leagues. Last year was the
first he spent entirely in a full-season circuit, and he went 11-8,
4.28 in 27 starts at low Class A Delmarva. He had a 146-61 K-BB ratio
in 151 innings, while opponents hit .281 with 10 homers against him.
Perez’ best pitch is his 88-93 mph fastball. Scouts don’t like his
delivery, which inhibits his ability to work inside against
righthanders, and his secondary pitches (a curveball and changeup) are
fringy. He has a career 25-27, 3.70 record in 93 pro games (68 starts).