Oakland A's Prospect Q&A: Eric Patterson, IF

They say that you only have one chance to make a first impression, and Eric Patterson is certainly doing his part to make that impression a strong one. Patterson, who was acquired by the Oakland A's from the Chicago Cubs in early July, has gotten off to a fast start with Triple-A Sacramento. We caught-up with Patterson this past weekend to get his thoughts on the trade, his playing style and more…

Eric Patterson was one of three players acquired by the Oakland A's from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. Patterson came to Oakland with 20 games of big league experience with the Cubs, all of which came in 2007 and 2008. Patterson was the Cubs' eighth round pick in 2004 out of Georgia Tech. He is the younger brother of former Cubs' top prospect and current Cincinnati Reds outfielder Corey Patterson.

Although most fans are more familiar with Eric's older brother, the younger Patterson has had a distinguished minor league career himself. He is a career .300 hitter in the minor leagues and he has collected double-digits in homeruns and stolen bases in each of his three full minor league seasons coming into the 2008 campaign.

Patterson is a second baseman by trade, but he has played some outfield with the Cubs both in the minor leagues and in the big leagues. Since joining the Sacramento River Cats on July 11th, Patterson has played exclusively at second base, although it is likely that he will see some time in the outfield eventually.

At the plate, Patterson has been dynamic since coming to Sacramento. In 50 at-bats, he is batting .340 with six doubles, a triple, three homers, three stolen bases and a 1080 OPS. In 253 at-bats at Triple-A with both the Iowa Cubs and the River Cats this season, Patterson is batting .324 with 22 doubles, four triples, nine homers, 38 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 14 chances.

We caught-up with Patterson this past weekend to discuss his reaction to being traded, his style of play and more…

Question: What was your reaction to the trade?

Eric Patterson: The first thing I did when I was traded was review the roster and it turns out that I have known or have played against a lot of these guys over here. Coming in, it is always comforting being around guys you know and guys you've played with and had a history with. From day one, I have felt really comfortable and the guys have made me feel really welcome.

Q: Where do you like to hit in the line-up?

EP: It doesn't matter. I've hit either one or two most of my career. I definitely feel comfortable there, but wherever they need me, if they have to move me around, whatever, as long as I am in the line-up and get a chance to play, I'm happy.

Q: Do you always have the green light to steal bases? Are you always looking to run?

EP: You want to pick your spots and you don't want to run just to run. You have to understand the situation and so far this year, it has been a lot better. Last year, I got thrown out a lot more. I've been picking my spots a little better, gotten better leads and better jumps.

Q: What kind of influence did your brother have on you as a baseball player?

EP: The biggest thing was growing up and just being around him all of the time. He was a two-sport guy and I can remember summers where football practice would be going on and he'd take it upon himself to go hit in the cage after practice. Just seeing all of the hard work that he put in just to get to this point to be where he is now is something that I have taken in. If anything, his work ethic and just how he goes about his business. It's been good just to see someone so close to you find success and get to the level that he is at, you see that it is attainable.

Q: What is it like to play at Wrigley Field?

EP: Oh, it's crazy. Obviously, they are going to sell it out every game. It's just a different atmosphere. Obviously, I haven't been to a lot of different major league stadiums, but by far and away, it was a different place. The fans are really into it. If you play well, they are going to let you know. If you don't, they are going to let you know, too. It's a great place to play and I definitely enjoyed the games I got to play there.

Q: You played a little outfield with the Cubs. Do you feel comfortable there?

EP: It's always a learning process. Even second base is still a learning process. For me, I feel like I can do it. I haven't been there as much, so it isn't as comfortable, but I definitely feel comfortable in center. I feel a lot more comfortable there than in the corners. I can play the corners in a pinch but if you were to ask me where I would prefer to play in the outfield, it would definitely be centerfield.

Ideally, I can stay at second base, but whatever these guys need is fine. That is the biggest thing, is being versatile and being able to go out there and try not to embarrass yourself too much. I try to get my work in in the infield everyday and every couple of days, I'll run out into the outfield and just shag some flyballs and stuff like that.

Q: You have a little more pop than people give you credit for. Do you feel like you can hit for power?

EP: Yeah, I think so. I think [power] just comes with understanding your swing and understanding pitches you can drive and pitches you can't. Sometimes the situation calls for you to be able to cut it loose a little bit more. By no means am I a power hitter. By no means am I going to hit 30 homers, but I've got the ability to hit one out occasionally. Being a top of the order hitter, I am just trying to get on base and I'm just trying to hit the ball hard and keep it between the lines and hopefully I have the results.

Q: How is it playing for Todd Steverson [Sacramento River Cats' manager]?

EP: It's great. I had a great manager in Iowa in Pat [Listach] and Trick [Todd Steverson] is the same way. They are both low-key guys. As long as you go out and get your work in pre-game and as long as you play hard and play the game the right way, they are happy. They are easy to get along with and easy to play for.

Q: How did you feel about being traded away from Chicago?

EP: It was bittersweet. It is always tough to leave a group of guys that you have come up with and have built relationships with. It's not just the players, but the coaching staff, as well. I called my manager in Triple-A – he used to be my manager in Double-A – and I used to call him in the off-season and would check in with him.

At the same time, I think that over here, it is just a better opportunity for me to kind of get up to the big leagues and stay there. I think that it was the kind of situation where [the Cubs] wanted to win right now – and not to say that Oakland is not – but it was a little bit tougher for younger guys to go in there [in Chicago] and break in and play everyday. Over here, it seems like they are a little more willing to give younger guys more of a chance rather than a one- or two- or three-game audition.

You aren't going up there to fill a need [in Oakland]. You are going up there to play. It is definitely comforting knowing that being here in the organization, just knowing that if you work hard and put up the results, you are definitely going to get an opportunity.


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