Meet Anthony Seigler, the Switch-Hitting, Switch-Pitching MLB Draft Gem

Danny KnoblerMLB Lead WriterMay 29, 2018

Courtesy of Seigler family

The most interesting player in the MLB draft this June is a switch-hitting catcher.

And a right-handed pitcher. And a left-handed pitcher. A starter. And a closer. An infielder. And, oh yes, an outfielder.

He's Anthony Seigler, an 18-year-old high school senior from Cartersville, Georgia, and trust me, you've never seen anyone quite like him. He's Shohei Ohtani, if Ohtani turned around and started throwing left-handed too. He's the switch-pitcher Pat Venditte, if Venditte started a game behind the plate and ended it on the mound.

He's the guy who could play all nine positions in one game, except he could do it one day throwing right-handed and the next day throwing left-handed.

"It's a unique toolset," as one Georgia-based scout said. "You just don't see it."

That scout and others have said they expect Seigler to go late in the first round of the draft, which begins June 4 in Secaucus, New Jersey. Baseball America's mock draft has him going 22nd to the Colorado Rockies, while MLB.com's latest mock draft says he could be in consideration anywhere from the 27th pick on.

He's likely to be drafted as a catcher, which would also be his position if he opts not to sign and honors a commitment to the University of Florida. For all Seigler's versatility, his skills behind the plate seem most likely to get him to the big leagues.

"I feel catching is what's going to get me to the next level," he told Bleacher Report in a conversation this spring. And if getting to the next level means giving up everything else he has done, he's willing to accept it.

Anthony Seigler throws harder right-handed but has more movement left-handed.
Anthony Seigler throws harder right-handed but has more movement left-handed.Courtesy of Seigler family

"I'm going to miss pitching," he said. "But as long as I'm still playing, that's fine with me."

Believe it or not, switch-pitching came naturally for Seigler. It's easier than switch-hitting, he said, even though there are plenty of switch-hitters in the big leagues and no switch-pitchers besides Venditte, who has appeared in 44 major league games since 2015.

It was as simple as picking up a ball and throwing it, sometimes with his right hand, sometimes with his left.      

"Ant started walking at 9 ½ months, and at 10 months, I got him this small wood bat he would swing," said Todd Seigler, Anthony's father. "I noticed if I rolled a ball to his left, he would pick it up with his left hand and throw it. If I rolled it to his right, he would pick it up with his right hand and throw.

"I remember thinking, When he gets older, I'm going to buy him a glove for both hands. And that's what I did. We literally started alternating arms day-to-day."

One day, Todd would have Anthony throw right-handed. The next day, he'd give his son the other glove and have him throw left-handed. They did the same with hitting. One day righty. One day lefty.

"For him, it was just normal," Todd said. "It was like learning to talk, eat or brush his teeth."

Todd Seigler played baseball in college, but when his career was over, he went into education. He teaches Spanish at Cartersville High, the same school where Anthony is starring at multiple positions on the baseball field.

"When you get kids at a young age and immerse them in something, they grow up, and it's just a natural part of them," Todd said.

For Anthony, sports became natural, especially baseball. And in the same way most kids think of themselves as either left-handed or right-handed, he thought of himself as both.

"I've been doing it so long it just feels normal," he said. "It's second nature."

He throws right-handed when he's behind the plate or in the infield. He throws a football left-handed but shoots a basketball left-handed (he didn't play either sport in high school). But he writes right-handed.

As for pitching, that depends.

He has more movement left-handed, throwing in the mid-80s. He has more power right-handed, when he'll sometimes top 90 mph.

When he starts a game, he throws left-handed. When he comes in as a closer, he goes for the power and throws right-handed.

He has a six-finger glove, and when he was younger, he would sometimes switch from right-handed to left-handed from batter to batter, depending on the matchup. Now he doesn't switch during innings, preferring to get in a rhythm throwing one way or the other.

It works. Seigler had a 1.09 ERA in 25.2 innings on the mound this spring for Cartersville, with just six walks and 29 strikeouts. Meanwhile, he hit .421 with 26 of his 45 hits going for extra bases, including 13 home runs, as Cartersville finished as runner-up in the Georgia 4A state playoffs.

He also had 16 steals in 19 attempts and threw out 12 of the 21 baserunners who tried to steal against him. And while he has concentrated mostly on pitching, hitting and catching this season, he could play anywhere.

"He'd probably be our best center fielder," Cartersville coach Kyle Tucker said. "He'd probably be our best infielder. He's probably our best pitcher. He throws strikes, and he's tough to hit. And he's our best catcher.

"And right-handed hitter. And left-handed hitter."

Here's the funny part about Seigler's becoming a top prospect at catcher: It's the one position Todd Seigler didn't teach him to play.

"He was nine years old," Todd said. "Me and one of my buddies were coaching a 12-year-old team. Ant had just finished his fall league game, and he came over and sat on the bench with us. I left to warm up a pitcher in the bullpen.

"Right then, the catcher who was in the game for us got hurt. My buddy looked on the bench and asked, 'Is there anyone here who can catch?' Anthony says, 'I can,' even though he had never done it. Well, he gets back there and looks natural. I came back from the bullpen, and I didn't even realize it was him.

"That was the moment I said this kid's special."

Then again, Anthony Seigler was born to be special, or at least named to be special.

Todd grew up in South Carolina, but he went to Scottsdale Community College in Arizona to play baseball. While working out at Scottsdale, he met Tony Phillips, whose Oakland A's team would do its early spring training work at the school.

Seigler and Phillips started talking and quickly became friends. They were so close that Seigler lived at Phillips' house for a while, so close that Seigler decided that if he had a son, he'd name him Anthony.

"What's neat is how much Anthony is like Tony," Todd Seigler said. "Remember, Tony was fiery, tenacious. It's amazing the similarities."

Seigler came to catching later, but now, catching "is his passion."
Seigler came to catching later, but now, catching "is his passion."Courtesy of Seigler family

Phillips was also versatile, playing every position in the infield and all three outfield spots during his 18-year major league career. He was a switch-hitter too.

Phillips was never a catcher, though. Seigler took to catching so well that it has become his future.

"Catching really is his passion," Todd Seigler said. "He loves being in charge."

He also loves to throw, and he has impressed scouts with his willingness to throw behind runners on pickoff plays. Tucker praises Seigler for his ability to frame pitches and block balls in the dirt, but it's his arm that gets more attention.

"His arm is such a weapon," Tucker said. "It's really amazing to watch."

"The thing that caught my eye was how accurate his throws are," the scout said.

Seigler played for Team USA last summer. He was the regular catcher for a team that won the 18-and-under World Cup. MLB.com describes him as "agile behind the plate, [with] a quick transfer that helps his arm play as plus at times, and [he] shows promise as a receiver and pitch framer."

Anthony Seigler on the basepath for Team USA last summer.
Anthony Seigler on the basepath for Team USA last summer.Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images

The talent behind the plate has pushed Seigler to concentrate more on catching at the expense of playing everywhere. It has even affected how he pitches. He said one of the reasons he has pitched more left-handed this season is to save his right arm for throwing as a catcher.

His ability to throw with both arms has helped him in similar ways in the past. If Seigler pitched a game left-handed, he would throw right-handed if he played the outfield the next day.

It required more work because he always had to make sure his throwing mechanics were right from both sides. Even this year, when Seigler spent most of his time as a catcher, he would sometimes do some throwing left-handed before or after practice.

He knows this could be it, that in pro ball or at Florida he could be concentrating so much on catching that he never needs to throw left-handed at all.

He'll still have the six-finger glove, specially made for him by Mizuno, the one with his name on it, the one teammates always ask to see. He'll still be able to talk about all he has done.

And who knows, maybe there will be another chance to pitch, sometime down the line. Maybe he'll be playing somewhere, and they'll need a right-hander...or a left-hander.

Maybe they'll see what Tucker saw, way back when Seigler was 11 or 12 years old.

"Todd started teaching at our school when Anthony was nine," Tucker said. "I'd heard about him throwing with both hands, but usually, when kids do that by the time they get to 10, 11, 12, they declare a side. I started to watch him play, and I said: 'This is amazing. He throws right-handed. He throws left-handed. There's no drop-off. He hits right-handed. He hits left-handed. No drop-off.'

"He played second base. Center field. Right field. You just put him out there, and you don't worry about it. He's just a baseball player. He's a baseball player in the truest sense."

He is, but he's like no other baseball player you've ever seen. Or he's like every player you've ever seen, all rolled into one 6'0", 190-pound package.

He really is the kid who can do it all.

                       

Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

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