New York Yankees: Pat Venditte the Switch-Pitcher

Bill Ford@billfordwritesCorrespondent IIIJanuary 13, 2012

TRENTON, NJ - JULY 2: Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees warms up before the start of his minor league rehab start with the Trenton Thunder in a game against the Altoona Curve on July 2, 2011 at Mercer County Waterfront Park in Trenton, New Jersey. Jeter is set to rejoin the Yankees in Cleveland on Monday in his return from a calf injury. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Most die-hard Yankee fans are familiar with the prospects in the minor league farm system. Many know the name Pat Venditte, but there are some who don’t.

Venditte is an ambidextrous pitcher with the Yankees affiliate Double-A Eastern League Trenton Thunder.

Currently, he is the only known pitcher at the professional level who has the ability to pitch effectively with both arms.

His ability to throw as a switch pitcher has generated quite a buzz and a following at games and on the Internet.

While pitching with both arms for the Creighton Bluejays in college, he had a 3.02 ERA in 62.2 innings in his sophomore year. His junior year proved his value, pitching 42 2/3 scoreless innings.

In 2007, the Yankees attempted to draft him, but he refused. Venditte preferred to continue to pitch in college to further develop velocity with his left arm and to add another pitch with his right arm.

When the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft took place, he was picked in the 20th round and was signed by the Yankees.

Venditte has successfully played in multiple minor league levels and was promoted to Double-A. Fans love to watch him pitch and switch his custom-made glove to his other hand to switch arms.

On the Internet, there is a very popular minor league video from 2008 of Venditte pitching for the Staten Island Yankees against the Brooklyn Cyclones.

He faced a switch-hitting batter, and each of them kept switching left-to-right several times until the umpiring crew ruled that the batter must select left or right and stay with it through the at-bat.

Venditte was then able to throw with whichever arm that he chose. He went on to strike out the batter.

He completed the 2008 season with 23 saves in 30 games and had a 0.83 ERA.

Although the fans get excited about him, he is not considered one of the top prospects in the Yankees’ system. His fastball averages about 87 MPH and tops out at 94 MPH. His left-handed fastball is significantly slower.

Minor league baseball will give a player such as Venditte an opportunity to further develop and refine his pitches and his mechanics.

Pitching as he does now, it would be unlikely that he would do well in the major leagues. His right arm is his strong arm, but his velocity would inhibit him.

Proper coaching and conditioning may help him to increase his velocity with both arms. He definitely has the talent and skills needed to pitch successfully at the minor league level, but he needs more time for development to be able to take on veteran MLB batters.

The novelty of watching an ambidextrous pitcher puts fans in the stands, but that would wear off quickly in MLB if he doesn’t dominate batters.

The Yankees need some relief pitching, and Pat Venditte may be able to fill that role, but that may be two or three years down the road.

Right now is too early to know if he’ll get the call to the mound for the Yankees one day. In the meantime, pay attention as he progresses in Double-A.

You never know.