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).