Southpaw Heat: Garrett Patterson

With their 7th round pick in the 2005 draft, the Yankees selected a lefty pitcher named Garrett Patterson. Armed with mid-90's heat, Patterson seems to have himself a place in the organization, resulting mostly from his huge upside. Garrett recently sat down with us for a PinstripesPlus.com exclusive.

The Yankees are taking a flier on Garrett Patterson. The facts are that he is a 23 year old pitcher that will need to move quickly through the system and he has had some control problems. But, some other important facts remain. Patterson is a strong, hard throwing left hander with excellent secondary stuff as well.

For a guy who could have become a pro a couple different times, expectations of what it would be like when he finally got there have certainly crossed the mind of Garrett Patterson. But, in his mind, it was difficult to predict what it would be like once he finally arrived.

"I didn't really know what to expect," the southpaw explained. "I haven't really played summer ball the last two years because my elbow was hurting. So, this is really the first time I've played summer ball in a while. I'd say it's been all I expected and more. I didn't know what to expect. Here, its just baseball day in and day out. You practice and you go out and play. It is all baseball, all the time. Its a lot of fun."

But, there was likely a time in Patterson's career where there were doubts about his future. Battling through elbow problems, Garrett looked at the 2005 draft as a make or break type year after being a non-factor in college for two seasons. However, by looking at how high he was picked despite his injury history, it goes to show you how highly the Yankees think of him.

"I was actually told a couple days before the draft that it was either going to be the Braves or the Yankees that took me," Patterson told PinstripesPlus.com. "But, then, when the Yankees took Zach Kroenke in the 5th round, I started to wonder. That's where they said they were going to take me and he was a lefty pitcher, so I started to think maybe they're not going to take me. But, then they took me in the 7th so it worked out."

In college, Patterson put up strong numbers, going 6-3 with an ERA south of four, while striking out more than a hitter per inning. However, hitters in college certainly are not the same as the hitters at the professional level. Even as mostly first year players, professional hitters can make even the best pitchers pay for their mistakes.

"All of them know the strike zone really well," the 7th round pick concluded. "Now, the strike zone is even smaller than what it was in college, so that makes it tougher as well. So, pitches that would get called strikes in college are now getting called balls. Hitters know the zone really well. And, usually if you make a mistake, they make you pay for it. They hit it hard somewhere."

To combat simply better hitters and smaller strike zones, Patterson has battled back with some adjustments of his own thanks to Staten Island pitching coach, Mike Thurman, and some dedication on his part. These adjustments are not quite totally refined just yet, but as the hard throwing lefty says, he's better now than when the Yankees drafted him.

"I was only touching like 93 MPH in college this year and now I'm touching 94-95," the former Sooner said. "I think my pitching coach here, Mike Thurman, has taught me a lot. Just the work and the things we do here, day in and day out has helped me get the velocity up a little bit more. I think the main thing I'm doing now is letting my arm work for myself. Instead of trying to make myself work more, I'm just letting my arm do the work. For me, I'd like to try and stay in the zone more next year and improve my control. I think if I can get more control of my pitches, I'll be fine. But, also, I'm a lot better now than I was when I first got here."

For Garrett Patterson, it has been a season of a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks. Obviously, one of those categories he'd like to keep and the other he'd like to cut back on. But, according to Patterson, one of the reasons is a common one for his high strikeout and walk totals.

"I have always been a power pitcher," Patterson exclaims. "And, being a power pitcher, you're naturally going to get more strikeouts. I'm not used to it, but since I throw harder, it's something I've done throughout my career. I'd say either my fastball or my changeup is my strikeout pitch. Honestly, I think even though I throw real hard, I still think my changeup is probably my best pitch. And, I wouldn't say there's a real reason for the walks. I think some of it has to do with me throwing a little bit harder than the average pitcher. And, sometimes it is a little harder to control. But, that's still not really an excuse. I just have to get out there and get it going. I think some of it is because this is my first year to pitch in like two years because I had surgery on my elbow. But, I still don't think there's an excuse. I just have to get out there and do it."

With some refinement, Garrett Patterson may be fast tracked in the coming years, right through the farm system. He's a power lefty and those are obviously a rare commodity. In this day in age, it isn't easy to find southpaw heat.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Yankees are taking a flier on Garrett Patterson. The facts are that he is a 23 year old pitcher that will need to move quickly through the system and he has had some control problems. But, some other important facts remain. Patterson is a strong, hard throwing left hander with excellent secondary stuff as well.\r\n

\r\nFor a guy who could have become a pro a couple different times, expectations of what it would be like when he finally got there have certainly crossed the mind of Garrett Patterson. But, in his mind, it was difficult to predict what it would be like once he finally arrived.\r\n

\r\n\"I didn't really know what to expect,\" the southpaw explained. \"I haven't really played summer ball the last two years because my elbow was hurting. So, this is really the first time I've played summer ball in a while. I'd say it's been all I expected and more. I didn't know what to expect. Here, its just baseball day in and day out. You practice and you go out and play. It is all baseball, all the time. Its a lot of fun.\"\r\n

\r\nBut, there was likely a time in Patterson's career where there were doubts about his future. Battling through elbow problems, Garrett looked at the 2005 draft as a make or break type year after being a non-factor in college for two seasons. However, by looking at how high he was picked despite his injury history, it goes to show you how highly the Yankees think of him.\r\n

\r\n\"I was actually told a couple days before the draft that it was either going to be the Braves or the Yankees that took me,\" Patterson told PinstripesPlus.com. \"But, then, when the Yankees took Zach Kroenke in the 5th round, I started to wonder. That's where they said they were going to take me and he was a lefty pitcher, so I started to think maybe they're not going to take me. But, then they took me in the 7th so it worked out.\"\r\n

\r\nIn college, Patterson put up strong numbers, going 6-3 with an ERA south of four, while striking out more than a hitter per inning. However, hitters in college certainly are not the same as the hitters at the professional level. Even as mostly first year players, professional hitters can make even the best pitchers pay for their mistakes.\r\n

\r\n\"All of them know the strike zone really well,\" the 7th round pick concluded. \"Now, the strike zone is even smaller than what it was in college, so that makes it tougher as well. So, pitches that would get called strikes in college are now getting called balls. Hitters know the zone really well. And, usually if you make a mistake, they make you pay for it. They hit it hard somewhere.\"\r\n

\r\nTo combat simply better hitters and smaller strike zones, Patterson has battled back with some adjustments of his own thanks to Staten Island pitching coach, Mike Thurman, and some dedication on his part. These adjustments are not quite totally refined just yet, but as the hard throwing lefty says, he's better now than when the Yankees drafted him.\r\n

\r\n\"I was only touching like 93 MPH in college this year and now I'm touching 94-95,\" the former Sooner said. \"I think my pitching coach here, Mike Thurman, has taught me a lot. Just the work and the things we do here, day in and day out has helped me get the velocity up a little bit more. I think the main thing I'm doing now is letting my arm work for myself. Instead of trying to make myself work more, I'm just letting my arm do the work. For me, I'd like to try and stay in the zone more next year and improve my control. I think if I can get more control of my pitches, I'll be fine. But, also, I'm a lot better now than I was when I first got here.\"\r\n

\r\nFor Garrett Patterson, it has been a season of a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks. Obviously, one of those categories he'd like to keep and the other he'd like to cut back on. But, according to Patterson, one of the reasons is a common one for his high strikeout and walk totals.\r\n

\r\n\"I have always been a power pitcher,\" Patterson exclaims. \"And, being a power pitcher, you're naturally going to get more strikeouts. I'm not used to it, but since I throw harder, it's something I've done throughout my career. I'd say either my fastball or my changeup is my strikeout pitch. Honestly, I think even though I throw real hard, I still think my changeup is probably my best pitch. And, I wouldn't say there's a real reason for the walks. I think some of it has to do with me throwing a little bit harder than the average pitcher. And, sometimes it is a little harder to control. But, that's still not really an excuse. I just have to get out there and get it going. I think some of it is because this is my first year to pitch in like two years because I had surgery on my elbow. But, I still don't think there's an excuse. I just have to get out there and do it.\"\r\n

\r\nWith some refinement, Garrett Patterson may be fast tracked in the coming years, right through the farm system. He's a power lefty and those are obviously a rare commodity. 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