Albuquerque 26-year-old right-hander Red Patterson, who grew up in Frisco, Texas, pitched his final collegiate season at Southwestern Oklahoma State in Weatherford. Three years after being selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 29th round, Patterson has spent the entire season in Triple-A.
In three minor league seasons, Patterson has compiled a 31-11 record with a 3.42 ERA, recording 406 strikeouts in 405 innings. This season with the Isotopes, Patterson is 6-4 with a 3.35 ERA.
Q: You've spent much of your career as a reliever but now you're starting. What's your future?
A: “I have no idea, to be honest. My first time to be a reliever was last year in Double-A. I really liked coming out of the pen. But I also like starting. This year I've done a little bit of everything.”
Now that you're this close to the major leagues can you taste it?
“You obviously want to get up there. When it happens it happens. I just keep busting my tail every year, and we'll see how it plays out. When you're in A ball it seems so far away. Now I'm one step away.”
You've had quite a ride for someone never drafted until his senior year of college. Why weren't you drafted before 2010?
“I was mostly a catcher in high school who pitched a little bit. My senior year I split 50-50, so I wasn't projected much as a pitcher. I didn't even get a bite (scholarship offer) from any college. That summer I played with the Dallas Mustangs. Grayson (Junior College) saw me and signed me. My first year I did OK. My second year is when I really took off.”
Were you disappointed you weren't drafted that year?
“I was so naive to the whole thing I didn't know what to expect. I went to Texas-San Antonio and redshirted my first year. After my second year I went undrafted again. That's when I decided I'd look at opportunities other than baseball. I figured I'd have to get a real job back home in Frisco.”
How did you end up at Southwestern?
“I was dating a girl who lived in Weatherford. If I transferred to another D-I school I'd have to sit out another year. I didn't want to do that, so I looked at D-II schools. My choices were UCO or Southwestern. I fell in love with the city, the campus, the coaches and the baseball program. I liked everything about it.”
Did you have expectations of being drafted after Southwestern?
“The word from scouts was I was undraftable because of my mechanics. I feel my mechanics are fine, but they felt I would be injury prone. My agent got me a tryout with the Dodgers. I threw well but still didn't think I'd be drafted.”
What was your reaction when the Dodgers selected you?
“I was in Puerto Rico. My dad called me and said, ‘Congratulations.' I said, ‘For what?' He said the Dodgers drafted you. I was in complete shock.”
How big a role did Southwestern play in the process?
“It played a huge role. One of the biggest things that got me drafted were my strikeouts my year at Southwestern. Coach (Scott) Selby was the coach when I was there. Coach Zack Saunders was here when I pitched the other night. I still stay in close contact with all the coaches I've had.”
What do you attribute your success throughout the minors?
“Once I got into pro ball, when I could focus on baseball, I took off. I've had a lot of help, a lot of advice along the way from coaches. It was enormous to have so many people help me along the way.”
How and when did you get the nickname Red?
“My given name is John. When I was in the third grade I was on a basketball team. We had three kids named John. Every time the coach would say, ‘John,' all three of us would come running. Eventually he said he was going to call one kid John, another kid Jonathan and because of my red hair he said, ‘You'll be Red.' It's stuck ever since.”
Looking back, are you blown away how it's turned out considering it was difficult just to get a college scholarship offer?
“A little bit. But I've put in a lot of hard work to get here. When it pays off it's such a good feeling just to make it this far. If I do make the big leagues that would be a big bonus. That's my goal.”