- Full name John Hollis Patterson
- Born 01/30/1978 in Orange, TX
- Profile Ht.: 6'6" / Wt.: 210 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School West Orange-Stark
- Debut 07/20/2002
- Drafted in the 1st round (5th overall) by the Washington Nationals in 1996.
Organization Prospect Rankings
The fifth overall pick in 1996 by the Expos, Patterson became a free agent because Montreal didn't properly tender him a contract. He signed with Arizona for $6.075 million and pitched well until needing Tommy John surgery in May 2000. He improved steadily last season and the Diamondbacks won four of his five big league starts. Patterson has worked diligently to return to his pre-injury form and made a breakthrough in 2002. He regained the shoulder-to-shoetops curveball that always has been his best pitch. He can buckle hitters with the bender while buzzing them with a 93 mph fastball that he locates well. He loves to compete. Patterson's fastball still hasn't quite returned to its previous 95-96 mph range, though he was consistently in the low 90s last season. Missing much of 2000 and 2001 cost him time to work on the development of his changeup. A spot in Arizona's rotation is Patterson's for the taking this spring. Even if his old velocity never returns, he learned to pitch without his best stuff while recovering from surgery and is the better for it now.
Like the other draft loophole free agents from 1996, Patterson has yet to fulfill his potential. Injuries have posed roadblocks for Matt White and Bobby Seay in Tampa Bay, and Patterson will be entering his second year coming back from Tommy John surgery. The Diamondbacks' other loophole signee, Travis Lee, made the biggest splash before slumping with Arizona and getting traded to the Phillies in the deadline deal for Curt Schilling in July 2000. Prior to his injury, Patterson ranked among the very best prospects in the game and was on the verge of justifying his $6.075 million bonus. He had picture-perfect mechanics, mid-90s gas and an overhand 12-to-6 power curveball. He made his first start in more than a year last May in high Class A and climbed to Triple-A by season's end. His velocity was back in the 91-92 mph range, but he was inconsistent with the command of his curveball and a below-average changeup. The Diamondbacks have always babied Patterson, who never has surpassed 131 innings in a season, and he made it past the sixth inning in just three starts in 2001. They aren't sure what to expect out of Patterson in 2002, when he'll rejoin the Triple-A rotation. He worked hard in Tucson during the offseason to get ready for spring training.
Virtually everyone in the organization noticed something was wrong last spring when Patterson's fastball was clocked at just 90 mph. It took another month before doctors found a torn ligament in his right elbow. A month after that, the Diamondbacks decided he needed Tommy John surgery after seeking several medical opinions. They have a lot invested in Patterson, who received a $6.075 million bonus as a loophole free agent out of high school. Before his elbow injury, everyone held high hopes for Patterson because his 96 mph fastball was only his second-best pitch. When healthy, he throws a knee-buckling curve that he disguises well thanks to his smooth mechanics. He also has excellent command of his fastball and curve. The rehabilitation period has given Patterson time to assess why he has gone 18-29 as a pro. He needs to trust his stuff and not give in to hitters. He hasn't hit a batter since 1998, a sign that he's letting opponents get too comfortable. His changeup and command could use some tweaking. This could have been the season Patterson broke into Arizona's rotation for good. If all goes well, he could return to Triple-A by mid-May. The Diamondbacks expect to bring back their entire 2000 rotation, so there's no need to rush him.
Background: Patterson has done nothing to disappoint the Diamondbacks since signing for a $6.075 million bonus as a "loophole" free agent in 1996. While Penny won the California League's MVP award, Patterson won the ERA title. Strengths: Patterson has extra long arms and legs, which he uses to full advantage. He consistently throws his fastball in the 95-96 mph range and reports have had the pitch as fast as 99 mph. Patterson's curveball is in the low 80s with excellent bite and plane. His changeup has progressed. Weaknesses: Though his walk ratios are low for a young power pitcher, Patterson throws too many pitches to each hitter and needs to trust in his stuff more. He has averaged just 4.7 innings a start in two years as a professional, a large factor in his 9-16 overall record. The Future: While Penny is more of a sure thing than Patterson, Patterson's ceiling approaches Kerry Wood's because of his ability to throw two overwhelming power pitches. The key will be whether Patterson continues to develop his mound presence and confidence.
Minor League Top Prospects
The 1-2 pitching punch of Patterson and No. 5 prospect Brad Penny was much anticipated in El Paso, after creating a sensation in the California League last year. Both pitchers struggled early with command and composure. Like other young power pitchers, Patterson doesn't have complete control of his fastball, and that caused a rough transition to Double-A. But gradually, he began to harness the mid-90s fastball and big, biting curveball that the Diamondbacks paid millions to acquire. By the time he was promoted to Triple-A Tucson, Patterson appeared on track to the big leagues. San Antonio manager Jimmy Johnson said he could become a No. 1 or No. 2 starter. "He throws free and easy, effortless," DeFrancesco said. Mizerock even saw some more projectability in him: "He's a young kid who could fill out and get even better."