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Eric Patterson

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Eric Scott Patterson

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[edit] Biographical Information

The younger brother of Corey Patterson, second baseman Eric Patterson was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the eighth round of the 2004 amateur draft and debuted in the majors three years later. Patterson's father Don played in the NFL as a defensive back for two years (1979-1980).

[edit] Amateur career

Out of high school, Eric was picked by the Colorado Rockies in the 23rd round of the 2001 amateur draft but opted for college instead. As a freshman at Georgia Tech, Patterson hit .346 and slugged .458 while swiping 41 bases. He scored 73 runs, but it was 20 less than conference leader Khalil Greene. He was 9th in NCAA Division I in stolen bases and 2nd in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He made the All-ACC team as a freshman and Baseball America named him to their freshman All-American first team.

Patterson joined the US College national team that summer as the starting second baseman. He hit .333, second on the team to Michael Aubrey and ahead of Rickie Weeks, Carlos Quentin, Aaron Hill, Conor Jackson and Dustin Pedroia among others. Patterson was one of only three freshman position players on the team. He stole 17 bases that summer, more than all of his teammates cumbined.

In the 2002 Haarlem Baseball Week, Patterson went 9 for 19 with two walks and three runs to help the USA to its third title ever. Eric almost had the best average on the tourney and led Team USA. When Pedroia was injured in the finale, Patterson moved to shortstop and Rickie Weeks moved to second base from the outfield. While Patterson failed to establish himself as a top prospect at shortstop, it helped convince scouts that Weeks could handle second. Patterson hit .286/.429/.357 in the 2002 World University Championship, making three errors. He also stole 3 bases, tying Takashi Toritani for second behind Lingfeng Sun.

In 2003, Eric hit .274 and slugged .375. He scored 56, second on Georgia Tech to Matt Murton, and was next-to-last among the starters in batting average, trailing 1B Micah Owings, who would make the majors as a pitcher. Patterson stole 35 bases in 41 tries, tying him for 9th in NCAA Division I. In the 2003 Pan American Games, Patterson scored six runs, tying for the most, as the US won Silver.

As a junior, Patterson helped Georgia Tech to a 10th-place finish nationally. He hit .326 and slugged .508; his 9 home runs trailed only Owings on the team. He led the ACC easily with 48 steals (in 55 tries) and also led with 76 runs. Patterson made the All-Conference team at second base. He tied Matt Macri for 9th in NCAA Division I in runs and was third in stolen bases. Baseball America named him as a third-team All-American at second base.

The Chicago Cubs, who were employing Eric's brother Corey as their center fielder, took him in the 8th round of the 2004 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Sam Hughes and made his pro debut the next summer.

[edit] Minor Leagues

While Corey struggled in 2005, Eric exploded and was named the MVP of the Peoria Chiefs as well as the Cubs Minor League Position Player of the Year. The younger Patterson batted .333/.405/.535 with 11 triples, 90 runs and 40 steals in 51 attempts. His .982 fielding percentage was the best of any second baseman in the Midwest League and he led the league in average, 9 points ahead of the runner-up. He failed to lead in triples (2 off of the lead), runs (4 behind Agustin Murillo) or steals (17 behind). Not known for his power in college, he was second to Cesar Nicolas in slugging percentage in the MWL. Cubs farm director Oneri Fleita said "Every part of his game has been great." Baseball America ranked him as the #17 prospect in the MWL, between Sean Gallagher and Reid Brignac. Patterson made the Midwest League All-Star team at second base.

In his second year as a professional player, Patterson started at AA and hit .263/.330/.408 in 121 games for the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx with 9 triples and 38 steals in 50 tries. He also spent 17 games in AAA with the Iowa Cubs, where his batting line was .358/.395/.493 with 8 steals in 8 tries and 14 runs. Patterson led Chicago farmhands in runs (95) and tied for the lead in triples (11). He tied Callix Crabbe for the most putouts (237) in the Southern League. Baseball America rated him as the #17 prospect in his league once more, between Mitch Talbot and Juan Salas. Patterson also played in the 2006 Futures Game, going 0 for 1 as Howie Kendrick's backup on the USA squad.

Patterson spent the fall with the Mesa Solar Sox and hit .345/~.411/.460 with 15 stolen bases in the team's 31 games. He was 7th in the Arizona Fall League in average, right ahead of Trevor Crowe and Troy Tulowitzki and was ranked as the league's 20th-best prospect by Baseball America. Eric had led the AFL in steals and was second in runs, as his 27 were two shy of Ben Zobrist's 29.

Patterson was having a solid year for Iowa in 2007 when Chicago called him up in August as Alfonso Soriano went on the Disabled List. Eric entered his first game in the 9th inning as a backup left fielder, after starter (and college teammate) Matt Murton had left. He got his first plate appearance an inning later, against Brad Lidge and successfully bunted Jason Kendall to second. He started and hit 8th the next day, singling against Woody Williams in his first MLB at-bat. He was 1 for 6 in five games when he was sent back down to make room for Jake Fox. Through August 19, he is hitting .294/.354/.458 for the Iowa Cubs with only 17 steals in 25 tries but 14 home runs and 86 runs. Patterson made the Pacific Coast League All-Star team at second base.

[edit] Major Leagues

Patterson played a few games with the Cubs during interleague play in 2008. Patterson was dealt to the Oakland Athletics in July 2008 along with Matt Murton, Sean Gallagher, and prospect Josh Donaldson in exchange for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin.

[edit] Sources

2002-2007 Baseball Almanacs, 2002 Haarlem Baseball Week stats, MILB.com, 2007 Cubs Media Guide, IBAF website

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