Friday, June 15, 2007

1982 Topps #783

It isn't often that I've actually heard of a guy who gets selected in the 45th round of Baseball's Amateur Draft but I've been excited by Pat Venditte for quite awhile, ever since Alan Schwartz profiled the kid in The New York Times in April. Though the jaw-dropping video within the article that shows the Creighton switch-pitcher slipping his ambidextrous glove to his opposite hand has since been removed, I shat my pants when I first saw it (you, however, can check him out on YouTube). After putting on fresh underwear, I tried to dig around and find some independent scouting reports on him (other than his profile on the Creighton website) but gave up after like a page of Google searches. So then I had to go all the way the hell over to Baseball Prospectus and hang out in their chat room while I waited for prospect maven Kevin Goldstein to answer my question about him. He said:
He's going to go for sure. His numbers are good, his stuff isn't. He's in the mid-80s righthanded and drops to sidearm when he pitches lefty, and only in the upper 70s. Nobody is thrilled with him, but somebody in the teens is going to take a shot and see what happens.
Kev was way off base, but only because Venditte scared everyone off by announcing that he will return for his senior year at Creighton and develop his left side for another season. Of course, it should go without saying that he should expect to be drafted much higher next year and even if it doesn't have much of a career, he'll still be a trailblazer just for letting the rest of us know it can be done. It may take a generation or two, but your favorite team will be employing a switch-pitcher in their bullpen soon enough.

However, this isn't unprecedented. Greg A. Harris (not to be confused with Greg W. Harris), who long wanted to switch-pitch in a game, was finally allowed to do so in the next-to-last game of his career on September 28, 1995. He came in to pitch a shutout 9th against Cincinnati, grounding out Reggie Sanders with his left hand, walking Hal Morris and grounding out Eddie Taubensee with his right and finally switching back to his left to ground out Brett Boone to end the inning. If you're the sort that finds poetry in box scores, then check out the play-by-play from that night's game because you likely won't see it again for years.

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