In 2010, the D-backs bullpen had the worst ERA among all 30 teams. Not only were they grossly awful with a 5.74 ERA, but they were more than a full run behind the next worst team - the Cubs - at 4.72. Then Kevin Towers became the new GM and the great reliever project of 2011 began. Mark Reynolds was traded for relievers, J.J. Putz was signed and Saul Rivera, Carlos Rosa and Blaine Boyer were told never to come back. Eventually, the Diamondbacks would select Joe Paterson in the Rule 5 draft as the silly Giants decided to leave their 2009 Eastern League All-Star unprotected. Joe-paw would quickly become one of the leading reasons why the 2011 bullpen improved to a 3.71 ERA.
34 innings pitched later and it seems as if the Diamondbacks may have solidified their LOOGY void for the foreseeable future with a nice, young pitcher. One who is the sole cause for Prince Fielder moving to the American League.
After recording the final out to win the 2007 NCAA College World Series, Paterson was drafted in the 10th round by the San Francisco Giants. He reportedly never viewed himself as LOOGY but as he progressed through the minors and eventually into the majors he found himself pitching to splits more often than not. Over parts of four seasons in the Giants' farm system, he tallied a 2.64 ERA, relieving in 175 games, and managed a decent 232:80 K:BB.
The D-backs grabbed him in the 2010 Rule 5 draft and most critics highly approved of the acquisition as long as he would be confined to the LOOGY role.
Diamondbacks : Joe Paterson, LHP, from Giants: 24 year old southpaw, posted 3.48 ERA with 49/24 K/BB in 54 innings for Triple-A Fresno. Doesn't throw hard but has a good breaking ball, classic LOOGY type.
- John Sickels, "Rule 5 Draft Analysis"
I love this pick for the Diamondbacks, more so than any other reliever they've picked up recently through free agency or trade. I've mentioned Paterson in a few articles both at FanGraphs.com and here at BaseballAnalysts.com suggesting that he'd be a perfect LOOGY in the Majors. His ceiling isn't huge, obviously, as a future Ron Mahay or Brian Shouse, but most teams are in need of a good left-handed reliever...
- Marc Hulet, "Reviewing the 2010 Rule 5 Draft"
He wasted no time in living up to the mini hype, appearing in 19 games, pitching 10 innings with a 10:3 K:BB, holding opponents to a .143 BA and .402 OPS, and allowing only 3 of the 20 inherited runners to score. It wasn't until May 21 that Paterson had given up a run. Then of course, there's this...
There's no denying how valuable Joe Paterson was to the team this past year. He'll never throw many innings thanks to his poor velocity on all four of his pitches, but he's a perfect LOOGY for any team and there shouldn't be any reason for him not to succeed in that role. I was excited when he was selected in the Rule 5 draft but I wasn't expecting the level of quality he provided.
Other Snakepitter's grades:
History has told us not to expect much from Rule 5 draft picks. They are, in many ways, the ultimate low-risk, high-reward for a team. $50K gets you a player, and if he doesn’t work out, you might get half that back. Usually, they don’t. Less than a handful of last year’s Rule 5 players stayed with who selected them, and Paterson was the sole one to genuinely justify his spot on the 25-man roster by performance. While ERA is a bit wobbly for bullpen arms, only two other left-handed Arizona relievers with 15+ IP have had a sub-three ERA (Greg Swindell in 1999 and Doug Slaten in 2007). Really, a phenomenal return for $50K.