It kind of slipped under the radar because it hit around the same time Nick Saban was putting Agents on Notice (You've been warned playas, the Sabear don't take kindly to opposition trifflin' with his product); Kevin Patterson, Justin Fradejas and Bradley Hendrix announced they were all returning for their senior seasons. Patterson is the biggest surprise of the group because something happened for KP to go from this:
Auburn first baseman Kevin Patterson is one of those Cape League rarities – a third-year player. But it doesn't sound like he'll be spending a third full season with Cotuit. Tampa Bay drafted him in the 23rd round.
“We're just waiting to see,” he said of his status. “I talked to Tampa just before coming up, and they said they would watch me play some this summer, and probably by July we'd start talking. I'll probably sign sometime in July.
“I'm having fun up here again, but I'm ready to get that process over with and get started at the next level.”
Patterson, a 6-4, 230-pound slugging first baseman, had 16 homers at Auburn in just 124 at-bats this spring. Through eight games at Cotuit, he had fanned 10 times in 26 at-bats, but had a .387 OBP as he readjusted to wooden bats.
“I had a good year at school, but just didn't get to play enough,” he said. “I'm up here to get wood back in my hands and keep working at it.”
Patterson was a 24th-round pick of the White Sox out of high school.
"I am coming back because Auburn is a great place to play. Even though I did get drafted, after looking at all my options I felt that coming back to Auburn and playing every day and being in a fulltime role would help me from a baseball standpoint," Patterson said. "More importantly I am two semesters away from finishing my degree. I just had to take a step back and look at the whole big picture. One more year of school in the long run will probably be more beneficial for me."
So what does that mean for Auburn? Well, the already crowded infield just got a lot more crowded. As I see it, Coach John Pawlowski has a couple of options:
- Play KP at first base full time. Spell him when need be.
- Play KP at DH against righties and lefties
- Keep KP in the same role as last year.
I don't think option 3 is still viable as Patterson (The Kraken) alluded himself to playing full time. So KP will play everyday, but where? DH is where he is most comfortable, but 1B is where he needs to most work to improve his draft stock. For Patterson, his summer and fall workouts will mean the different between being David Ortiz or being Adam Dunn. I think KP would like to be more like Dunn, a power hitter who plays the field. It's no secret what Patterson needs to improve on, he has to improve against Lefties and he was to work on his range a bit so he can remain a viable option at 1B.
So who does this affect the most? Patrick Savage. Savage was probably next in line at 1B and was having a stellar summer in the Valley League where he's leading his team in AVG, OBS, and Runs. Savage seemed due for a breakout in 2011, but now that will be delayed.
This will also affect Dan Gamache. Gamache, to me, was a perfect fit at DH, and if the addition of Zach Alvord causes some major lineup reshuffling then Gamache might be losing out.
I'll keep a close eye on the Auburn Fall World Series and see if Pawlowski tips his hand a little bit. I'm glad Kevin "Kraken" Patterson is returning, I just don't envy the job Coach John Pawlowski faces now that he's decided to return.