By committing myself to a game or two in the pipeline a night as often as possible, the choice hinges on some general factors. On occasion the Cubs pipeline pitcher is the attraction. Sometimes, a division rival breaks the tie. Once in awhile, I cheat, and follow the offense all night long. However, if a pitcher does well enough for long enough, his game jumps to the top of the list. If you pride yourself on knowing who the Cubs might trade the next few weeks, Jack Patterson is a name to know.
A left-handed hurler from Bryant College in Smithfield, Rhode Island, the Cubs drafted Patterson in the 25th round in 2018. His 2018 season was split between the Cubs’ three short-season teams, and he broke camp in Mesa in April, not with a full-season squad. Eventually summoned to South Bend, he did well enough over 42 innings to get a promotion to Myrtle Beach. His third Carolina League start resulted in his second victory at the level, this time against the Brewers affiliate.
Patterson is a bit of a crafty lefty, throwing a full repertoire and a fastball that rarely goes over the 91 mark. He knows who he is, and he's done it rather well. He's regularly frustrated lower level hitters, as crafty pitchers sometimes boggle big league names. Today, though, I'm not trying to sell you on believing in him as an eventual big league arm. (He might be. Worse repertoires have lasted long enough to be valued.)
My question is one I've been springing on people who have actively "run tape" on his appearances: "Would you mind if Patterson gets traded this month?" Players have a version of a gestation period. Once someone "likes" a player, they don't especially want them traded. (Trade some of the guys I don't like.) For people oblivious of Patterson, it's a bit "no harm, no foul." However, for the micro-niche that looks forward to Patterson's next outing, losing him in trade is a less-desired result.
A southpaw pitcher in his first full-year of pro ball and already in the Carolina League is quite tempting, velocity or not. Patterson wouldn't be a key addition in a major trade (rhink Will Smith or Whit Merrifield), but if the Cubs are trading more like 2015 or 2018 than 2016 or 2017, Patterson could be a second piece for a reliever like Roenis Elias from Seattle.
The era of the lefty specialist may be going away, but Patterson has confused hitters in both batter's boxes, well beyond the level of many one-trick ponies. Patterson is a valid pitcher at the Advanced-A level, so far. How much longer it applies is anyone's guess. Would a league GM be willing to gamble on Patterson in a swap this month? I wouldn't be surprised. Last year minor leaguers Rollie Lacy, Alexander Ovalles and Ricky Tyler Thomas were sent in deals that brought Cole Hamels and Jesse Chavez to the Cubs.
One of the reasons I enjoy minor league ball so much is the regular occurrence of the unknown. If I only know three guys in the other team's lineup, I get to learn a bit that night. Patterson had one horrible outing this year, but has been a wonder the rest of the time. What his future holds is unclear. Trading him now could be "on a high point" or "at the start of his ascent". The uncertainty is fascinating. What level of success to expect from Patterson in the future is very uncertain. I’d wish him well, and appreciate his development if he’s traded.