Prior to the 2013 season, it was difficult to think of Spencer Patton as someone who could make an impact upon the Kansas City Royals. A 24th round draft pick in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft, Patton struggled over his first two seasons in professional baseball, putting together a 3-8 record with a 5.12 ERA and a 1.500 WHiP for the Idaho Falls Chukars of the Pioneer League. While Patton was able to strike out 13 batters per nine innings, he was fairly old for the level and had trouble with his command. Patton looked intriguing, but seemed to be a long shot at having a major league career.
Then, last season, things changed for Patton. Promoted to the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Patton was used almost exclusively as a reliever. With that change to the bullpen, Patton produced what was easily his best season in the Royals system, putting together a 5-2 record with a 1.96 ERA and a 1.073 WHiP, striking out 76 batters in 64.1 innings of work. That effort earned Patton a much deserved promotion to Northwest Arkansas, where he struck out 27 of the 69 batters he faced.
This season, as the primary closer for the Omaha Storm Chasers, Spencer Patton has continued to build on his success from last year. Thus far, Patton has actually been even better, posting a 0.83 ERA and a 0.738 WHiP while striking out 24 batters in 21.2 innings of work. Although his strikeout numbers have decreased, Patton has improved his command, walking only 2.9 batters per nine innings. Even more impressively, Patton has only allowed nine hits this year, holding the opposition to a .125/.213/.222 batting line.
With those results, one would likely expect Patton to be firing the ball in the upper 90′s. Instead, Patton is typically in the 90 to 93 MPH range with his fastball, mixing in a slider and a change. According to his scouting report from when he was drafted, Patton has a delivery that makes it difficult for opposing hitters to pick up the ball. As his fastball appears to b more explosive than it actually is, Patton has been able to attack opposing hitters with great success.
Should Spencer Patton continue to perform at this level, he could force the Royals to find a spot for him on the major league roster. Although he is not a member of the 40 man roster, a space could easily be cleared for him by putting Luke Hochevar on the 60 day disabled list. Given the struggles that Louis Coleman has had this season, it may not be inconceivable for Patton to find a role in Kansas City.
Spencer Patton may not be the first pitcher that one would think of in Omaha, but he certainly appears to be deserving a chance in Kansas City. Should he continue to perform at this level, that Royals debut could be coming soon.