Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

December 19, 2013

Que Bueno!

Patton excels as closer in Mexican Pacific League

Ryan Czachorski
Effingham Daily News

ST. LOUIS — Without ever having played abroad, it was safe to say Spencer Patton didn’t know what to expect after joining the Cañeros de Los Mochis.

Patton, a 2006 graduate of South Central High School, spent the last few months playing baseball in Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (the Mexican Pacific League) after his third season of minor league baseball concluded in September.

Even with the foreignness that naturally comes with playing in another country, it was the fans that stuck in Patton’s mind.

“It’s so wild, it’s like a FIFA match, music playing non-stop,” Patton said. “As far as baseball-wise, the fans caught me off guard with how involved they are.”

It didn’t show on the mound, as the former South Central Cougar, Parkland College Jaguar, SIU-Edwardsville Cougar and current Kansas City Royal minor leaguer had a fantastic season for Los Mochis.

Patton pitched in 20 games with a 2-1 record, serving as the team’s closer. He had a 0.72 ERA, was 10-for-10 in save opportunities and struck out 32 batters in 25 innings.

His WHIP was an astounding 0.64. Patton had a great season split between Wilmington (High-A) and Northwest Arkansas (Double A), earning him a playoff appearance with the Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple A).

Patton had only amassed four saves in three minor league seasons, but took to closing with flair for Los Mochis. Now, the experience could help him back with the Royals organization.

“It was a good experience for me that way,” he said. “I just continued right in there with what I was doing this season.”

“I’ve never really been establish as a closer here in the States. It fit in quite nicely for me there. I’m assuming they kept a close eye on what I was doing down there, so they could know what role I would be comfortable with when I get back.”

Even after returning home Tuesday from Mexico, he said he’s still not sure if his agent or the Kansas City organization set him up in Mexico after he expressed interest in playing Winter Ball.

While it was an easy decision to make on paper, it was harder in practice.

“It was an easy decision to go play, but it was hard to leave my friends and family and be gone for two months,” Patton said.

So off to Mexico Patton went, with no experience in Spanish outside of his two years of it back in high school.

He knew no one on the team, and his only minor league teammate in the league played for another organization. Predictably, it was rough at first.

“It was a shot in the dark,” Patton said. “My Spanish was very, very, very rusty, aside from the two years in high school. It was very difficult at first, but my Spanish got a lot better as the season went on.”

Still, on a team with only five American players and eight currently in major league organizations, Patton’s performance shined through on the field and made the trip a success.

Now, the 25-year-old is poised to make his mark back in the United States. He had a 5-2 record with a 1.96 ERA for Wilmington, and was 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA at Northwest Arkansas. His WHIP was 1.073 and 0.833, respectively, and he struck out at least 10 batters per nine at both stops.

With a taste of Triple A experience during last year’s Storm Chaser playoff run, Patton’s closer than ever to making it to the bigs.

“I’m really excited about this next year,” he said. “I feel like I pitched well enough to give myself a spot come spring training. I have to go into next year with the same mentality.”