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Donald Corey Patterson (born August 13, 1979 in Atlanta, Georgia) is a Major League Baseball center fielder for the Washington Nationals. He is the older brother of Oakland Athletics outfielder Eric Patterson.
Patterson attended Harrison High School in Kennesaw, Georgia, and helped Harrison win the Georgia state championship as a senior in 1998. That year, he had a batting average of .528 with 81 runs scored, 22 home runs, 61 RBI and 38 stolen bases in 38 games. Patterson was named to the Baseball America and USA Today first-team All-America teams, and was selected by USA Baseball as its Amateur Player of the Year and as the Baseball Coaches Association's co-national high school Player of the Year. Patterson was also named a Baseball America second-team selection after his junior season.
Patterson was selected by the Chicago Cubs as the third overall pick in the 1998 Major League Baseball Draft. As a high draft pick, Patterson began his career with high expectations, and immediately began to fulfill those expectations with outstanding play in the minor leagues. He made his professional debut in 1999 with the Lansing Lugnuts of the class A Midwest League, and was selected as that league's "Prospect of the Year" after leading the league in slugging percentage (.592), extra base hits (72) and triples (17). He also batted .320 with 20 homers and 79 RBI, and was named to the league's all-star team both at midseason and postseason. Baseball America named Patterson the league's top prospect. After the 1999 season, he played in the Arizona Fall League, and played well there even though he was that league's youngest player. He batted .368 with 4 home runs, 24 RBI, and 8 stolen bases in 35 games, and was named to the league's all-star team.
In 2000, Patterson was promoted to class AA West Tenn Diamond Jaxx of the Southern League. As in 1999, he was named to the league's midseason and postseason all-star teams, and was named the league's top prospect by Baseball America. Patterson batted .268 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI, finishing second in the league in home runs.
After playing in the 2000 Southern League playoffs, Patterson was called up from the minors to play for the Cubs. He made his major league debut on September 18, 2000, against the Milwaukee Brewers. The next day Patterson recorded his first major league hit, a home run off Juan Acevedo. He finished the 2000 season with the Cubs with 7 hits in 42 at bats, and 2 home runs.
Corey did not start playing a full season until 2002 when he finished with a .253 batting average. In 2003, he started to become the All-Star the Cubs were looking for, batting .298 with 55 RBI in only 83 games before injuring his knee while running to first on a base hit against the St. Louis Cardinals. Since then, he has lost the consistency that he displayed in 2003.
Patterson played 157 games in 2004, with a .266 batting average, 24 home runs, and 72 RBI in 631 at bats. His OPB of .320, while low, is his best of the six seasons in which he played more than 83 games. He had the lowest range factor (2.18) among all starting major league center fielders in 2004.
Corey Patterson is a player gifted with many tools which made him a prized prospect in the Cubs organization. Patterson has superb speed and is an above average base-stealer. Whether leading off or hitting in the middle of the order, he shows excellent power, but also a tendency to overswing and go after bad pitches. Due to his high strike-out rate, many fans began spelling Patterson's first name as "Korey" (the letter "K" is used to designate strikeouts on baseball scorecards).
The 2005 season began slow for Patterson and only got worse. On July 7, he was sent down to the AAA Iowa Cubs during a season in which he struggled from the plate. The demotion came after the Cubs had lost a season-high eight games in a row, and reflected his precarious standing with the team. Published reports indicated that center fielder Felix Pie, the Cubs' top prospect, was slated to be called up from AA West Tenn in July when Patterson was sent down. However, an ankle injury sidelined Pie and the Cubs called up Adam Greenberg instead.
Patterson was back up with the major league team on August 9, after his one-month stint in AAA Iowa. During the time in AAA, center fielder Jerry Hairston, Jr. injured his elbow diving for a fly ball. Instead of calling up Patterson to regain his role as starting center fielder, the Cubs activated three disabled players and started Jose Macias in center. Patterson was apparently angered by the snub, even though that decision came while he was mired in a slump in Iowa. Following his return, Patterson's hitting worsened. He also earned the derision of his peers for saying "It's just a game." after a game in Colorado where he stranded baserunners in key situations. He insists that he said "It's just the game," implying that struggles are a part of baseball.
Patterson was traded by the Cubs to the Orioles on January 9, 2006, for A-level minor league prospects Nate Spears and Carlos Perez. In his only year with the Orioles, he batted .276 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI. He also stole 45 bases, which ranked third in the American League. Patterson's contract was not renewed concluding the 2007 season.
On March 3, 2008, the Cincinnati Reds signed Patterson to a minor league contract. At the end of Spring Training, he was added to the 40-man roster.
Patterson was Reds manager Dusty Baker's personal invitee to the Reds' training camp, and he started the season in center field for Cincinnati. Platooning with utility man Ryan Freel, Patterson's numbers at the plate were impressive at the beginning of the 2008 season. Gradually his average deteriorated, culminating in an 0-8 performance during Cincinnati's 18-inning loss to San Diego on May 25. The following day top outfield prospect Jay Bruce was called up from AAA Louisville to start in center field, demoting Patterson to the Reds' bench. Patterson did not collect a hit the following day either, stretching his slump to 0-9. On May 28, Patterson accepted a reassignment to AAA Louisville. The demotion lasted only one week, however, when Patterson was recalled to replace Ryan Freel, who went to the disabled list with a strained right hamstring on June 4. Corey ended the season with an extremely disappointing .205 batting average and .238 OBP.
On December 18, 2008, Patterson signed a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training with the Washington Nationals.
He throws right-handed and bats left-handed. His brother Eric was drafted by the Cubs in the 8th round in 2004, and made his major league debut for the Cubs on August 7, 2007. His father, Don Patterson, played in the NFL for two years.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
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