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An ambidextrous pitcher is turning some heads

May 23, 2011, 4:03 PM EDT

left right

There’s a story over at ESPN Chicago today about Ryan Perez, a pitching prospect who happens to pitch both right-handed and left-handed. At least one scout is saying he’s the real deal:

“He can really pitch. He’s a crafty, crafty guy. It’s not like he’s just hitting 82. I’ve seen him in a tryout camp where he was 87-88 from the left and around 91-92 from the right. That’s legit velocity. “On his sheer ability of throwing strikes and commanding the strike zone, I definitely think teams will take a look at him. I think people will definitely have interest in him.”

The last guy we heard doing this is Yankees minor leaguer Pat Venditte. At 26 and repeating AA with less-than-stellar results,*Venditte is more novelty than prospect.  Perez’s future remains to be seen, of course. My sense, though, is that if any ambidextrous pitcher ever had real promise that someone, at some point, would have told him to pitch with the better arm rather than mess around with the double-barreled approach.

UPDATE: Oops, that was sloppy. Venditte only pitched two innings at AA last year, so it’s misleading to say he’s “repeating AA.”  He isn’t doing fabulously in AA so far this year, but my initial assessment of him was off. He’s a little old to be considered a prospect, I think, but he has had some success to date.

  1. Andrew - May 23, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    Craig, Pat Venditte had pitched only 2 innings in AA before this season. I don’t think it’s fair to say that he’s “repeating” the level.

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 23, 2011 at 4:11 PM

      My bad. You’re right. I didn’t look closely, just saw the seasons. Will correct.

      • evanhartford - May 23, 2011 at 4:32 PM

        I think its still a novelty because its so new. It will become a pattern as more and more switch pitchers start maturing. All it takes is one “Michael Vick” type player to come along and suddenly it will be the talk of the town. However, just like in football, this person is going to have to be a great pitcher (quarterback) first and a switch pitcher (scrambler) second, not the other way around.

        I mean, in theory, a switch pitcher could spend nearly the same amount of time practicing with both arms as a traditional pitcher assuming they take a few days off to rest their respective arm(s).

        Where it gets REALLY exciting is imagining a starting pitcher that could pitch every other day or perhaps back to back games. They could also pitch well over 100 pitches per night and could switch based on the batter’s preference. Imagine the value of a pitcher (even if they were the 4th man in your rotation), that could do that.

  2. kopy - May 23, 2011 at 4:11 PM

    So THIS is why the Twins are dropping two-thirds of their games. Seriously though, I encourage the use of working both arms. I’d hate to see him stop one to work on the other, because at this point you wouldn’t know which arm is good enough to get you to the show.

    Plus, he may have to get Tommy John surgery someday, which would result in him just switching to the other arm exclusively while he recovers.

  3. RickyB - May 23, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    I faced an ambidextrous pitcher in college. He pitched for Harvard, threw right-handed against Duke on a Monday, then left-handed against us on Wednesday. I hit a one-hopper right off his noggin that caromed into center field, and I always say I nearly knocked out two of Harvard’s pitchers with one shot!

    • cur68 - May 23, 2011 at 4:32 PM

      Ricky you’d never need to buy your own beers with stories like that.

      • dmazzott - May 23, 2011 at 11:11 PM

        How’d he like them apples?

    • marshmallowsnake - May 23, 2011 at 4:32 PM

      Harvard has good pitchers?

      • kopy - May 23, 2011 at 4:44 PM

        Not anymore!

  4. oikosjeremy - May 23, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    So what’s the rule if he faces a switch hitter, and the hitter wants to keep switching sides every time the pitcher switches hands, and vice-versa? What’s the rule the forces one or both of them to make a choice so that a pitch can be thrown?

    • CJ - May 23, 2011 at 5:06 PM

      shockingly, this came up in the minors I believe last year. Pitcher must declare first, then batter may decide.

  5. spudchukar - May 23, 2011 at 4:56 PM

    Make this guy a reliever. The starting option won’t fly, because you use the same legs, and because of that he wouldn’t be able to start that much more often. But as a reliever, he would be dynamite, always going righty/righty, lefty/lefty, and Lord knows how many appearances he could produce.

  6. bigleagues - May 23, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    How does Greg A. Harris not get a mention anywhere on this? He’s the only pitcher in the modern era to actually pitch in major leagues games with each arm.

    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Greg_Harris_%28pitcher,_born_1955%29

  7. mtorresbaseball - May 25, 2012 at 10:56 PM

    Switch pitching is not a novelty as most baseball fans might believe.

    Northern California ambidextrous pitcher, Alexander Trautner, 16U varsity pitcher at San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, CA has been switch-pitching competively since his youth in the local little league (DLL-District 57) and throughout his travel ball career.

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