No alarms and no surprises, please.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Yankee Draft Analysis - Round 45

Wait, huh? We skipped from round 1 to round 45?

Yeah, this my crappy blog. I make the rules. Suck it up, Marine!

Why did I skip the 43 rounds in between and the excellent catching, third base and many, many hard throwing right handed pitchers in between?

Simple. In the 45th round, the Yankees drafted a "switch-pitcher". Make sure you just read that right and your brain didn't trick you into reading "switch-hitter". Switch Pitcher.

The pitch was nothing remarkable: Pat Venditte, Creighton University’s temporarily right-handed pitcher, threw a fastball past a Northern Iowa batter for a called strike three. It was his next windup that evinced this young pitcher’s uniqueness and, perhaps, professional future.

As his teammates whipped the ball around the infield, Venditte smoothly, unthinkingly, removed his custom glove from his left hand and slipped it on his right. Moments later he leaned back, threw a strike left-handed to the next batter, and finished the side in order.

WTF? He can throw from both sides during the inning? Yes. Can he switch during the at bat? No. Them's the rules. There was a bit of confusion over this.

A few months later, the ambidexterity caused controversy. A Nebraska Cornhuskers hitter went to the plate right-handed and Venditte went to his right hand. Then, the hitter moved to the left side of the batter's box, causing Venditte to step off the rubber and ask the umpire if he could switch. The umpire gave his approval, but the Nebraska coach immediately charged out of the dugout, citing an official rule that states a pitcher can switch arms only when the at-bat begins. Venditte, eventually, had to stay right-handed.

"Everyone was standing around, coaches, umpires, players, trying to figure out what to do," Venditte's father said.

I think it would be totally sweet if he didn't have to declare. That way, he and a switch-hitter like Varitek could play this cat and mouse game and then A-Rod could yell "Ha!" from the third and Venditte could throw and really piss off whiny Sox fans.

Here's a cool news feature from CSTV about him.

The last I heard of something like this was Greg A. Harris, who was naturally a right-handed pitcher, but his whole career wanted to try and get people out as a lefty. He finally got a chance in his final season as an Expo. But, it's the only time that's happened in major league baseball. There's a reason for that. You pretty much have to be exceptional at what you're doing to be merely average in Major League Baseball. And a person would have to be truly exceptional to do be good enough to be able to pitch with both arms in the major leagues. Logic says it's highly unlikely he'll be good enough to pitch in the majors with either arm, let alone both.

Well, how good is the kid? I couldn't find a scouting report of the guy. This article has the guy at 88-91 with the fastball right handed. He has a 78-81 mph "frisbee slider" left handed, which sounds truly Mike Myers-esque. No word on the other pitches he throws or the quality of those pitches. His statistics are actually decent and he has been used as a starter, too.

Can he be make it? The odds are not great. When you're drafted in the 45th round and you can use both arms it's probably because you have marginal stuff with both of them. As a reference point, the Yankees used a 42nd round pick to throw a bone to Don Mattingly and draft his son Taylor. Taylor hit .224 in rookie ball, hurt his shoulder and retired. Venditte's only a junior and so he may not sign with the Yanks and see if he can raise his draft stock with a very good senior season. All in all though, he's a very interesting kid and I hope he does sign with the Yanks and that he eventually makes it to AA. That way I can check him out when he plays in CT against the Rock Cats or the Defenders. At the very least, I'm rooting for him to succeed even if it's not with the Yanks. It would be fun to see.