In 2000, Corey Patterson sat atop the Cubs organization as their best overall prospect. From 2000-01 he hit .208 in his first 70 career games; however, everyone knew great things would come. In 2002 Don Baylor went against the initial plan to bat Patterson in the 7th and 8th slot. He was moved to the leadoff spot and then later to the second spot in the order.
At only 22 years old and with a mound of potential, Patterson's first full season displayed some strengths and revealed some weaknesses. Speed stuck out as his most valuable asset. He stole 18 bases while only getting caught three times, not to mention 5 triples. Fourteen homeruns and thirty doubles in 592 ABs showed his potential to become a 20-20 player in the near future. Unfortunately, the Cubs management did not close their eyes as he recorded a 142:19 K:BB ratio. With only a .284 OBP, the Chicago organization started turning sour on the youngster.
2003 was bittersweet for Corey. From a production standpoint, Patterson started to break through. His line improved from 2002's .253/.284/.392 to a much more appetizing .298/.329/.511. Stolen bases remained a part of his game with 16, although with less success (5 CS). Also, Patterson nearly matched his 2002 HR total of 14 by hitting 13 in only 329 at bats. That was the sweet, here is the bitter. A knee injury shortened Patterson's breakout campaign and he still showed no discipline at the plate. The new K:BB ratio remained ugly at 77:15.
Following the injury-shortened year, Patterson took a step back in 2004; yet he was still an average centerfielder. The promise of a 20-20 season was fulfilled as he hit 24 HRs and stole 32 bases. Sadly his OPS fell from .840 in 2003 to a less astounding .772. There was a hidden gem in the seemingly disappointing season. While he still piled up 168 strikeouts, his walks climbed to 45, crushing his previous high of 19.
With added patience, 2005 had Patterson fans excited for a huge year. Unfortunately, what was to come resembled a player with no right to be in the majors. In 415 ABs, his OBP dropped to .254. It appeared as if the former can't-miss prospect was a miss.
On January 9, 2006, Patterson's time with the Cubs was over. They traded him to the Baltimore Orioles for potentially valuable minor league second baseman Nate Spears and worthless lefty pitcher Carlos Perez. With the Orioles not expecting a playoff berth in 2006, this looked like a reasonable risk.
A frustrating former prospect who never fulfilled his potential... Patterson is an impatient hitter with little in the way of strike zone judgment... His contact skills are average at best... Decent power, good speed... Can't hit lefties... Generally an ineffective offensive player... Defense is inconsistent.
- Selected by Chicago Cubs in the 1st round (3rd pick overall) of the free-agent draft (June 2, 1998 - signed September 18, 1998).
- Traded by Chicago Cubs to Baltimore Orioles in exchange for Nate Spears and Carlos Perez (January 9, 2006).