Catching on quick
NILES – Steven Patterson, along with all other position-playing members of the 2014 Cleveland Indians draft class, played in front of a home crowd for the first time in his professional career.
Patterson led the charge for the collection of rookies, going 3 for 4 with two RBIs in the 5-0 Game 1 victory. He did not play in the 4-1 loss of Game 2.
So far, the 10th-round draft pick has made the adjustment to professional baseball very well. He is now batting .500 (7 for 14) with four doubles, four runs and five RBIs. He played three seasons in college, where he hit .300 in 2011 and .380 in 2012 (both while attending San Joaquin Delta College in California) and .324 in 2013 at the University of California, Davis.
However, playing professionally is a whole new monster for young players, manager Ted Kubiak said. Adjusting to the grind of playing everyday and focusing solely on baseball is a challenge many players struggle to accomplish. Patterson has tried to overcome that potential lull by getting off to a hot start and getting prepared for what lies ahead.
“It’s a lot more of a grind,” Patterson said. “I got a little taste of it the last few summers playing summer ball away from home and playing everyday with the travel and everything, so I had an idea of what it was like.
“My focus was to not have to play catch up once I started the season. I wanted to start hitting the ground running, and I was able to do that with my first couple games. I just gotta make sure I keep that going.”
Playing professional baseball is a difficult task, but just the unmeasurable number of ball players of all ages, Patterson has always been striving and hoping to one day to play as a pro. He is a part of the small percentage of high school players who went on to play professionally – about 1 percent depending on the source – and he does not take that for granted and knows he needs to continue to improve.
“(Getting drafted) was a dream come true,” he said. “It was finals week for me, just finishing up school … you know, it was hard for me to focus on school when I knew the draft was going on. Seeing my name called, and getting the call from the Indians was just a dream come true, it was really surreal for me.
“Coming into this summer, after the draft, in my head I was thinking, ‘I get to play baseball everyday.’ You know, I don’t have to worry about school,” he added. “It’s a different transition, not having to worry about school, but it’s a fun transition being able to focus on baseball 24/7. … But I need to make sure I’m getting better everyday. That was my main goal coming in. If I’m improving myself everyday, then everything is going to work out and I’ll eventually end up where I want to be.”
Kubiak sees potential in Patterson and believes his intelligence for the game has made an immediate appearance. However, he does acknowledge that playing everyday is the most difficult challenge for him and other young players.
“What he’s done has been impressive,” Kubiak said. “He’s had a nice start, done a lot of good things. He’s a pretty smart player, it looks like he’s pretty heady, pretty intelligent. He does some things instinctively that are hard to teach.
“Getting used to playing everyday (is difficult). They get worn out right away. They haven’t been doing much in college, despite they think they might have. They don’t understand the hard work that’s involved. It gets you, the bus rides, the schedule, they don’t get any rest getting here early at 5 a.m. … It takes it’s toll, but they’ve gotta learn how to deal with it.”
The final transition for Patterson, and his newly formed friend and fellow draft-class rookie Californian Taylor Murphy, will be the move from “sunny” California to “a little less sunny than California” Ohio.
“It’s not too bad,” Patterson said. “The couple storms here and there have kind of been a little of a shock to me because I’m not used to it, but the past few summers I’ve been over here on the east coast in Massachusetts and New York, so I have an idea of what kind of weather I’d be going into.”