“Switch-pitcher’’ Venditte joins Thunder bullpen
TRENTON — The “Venditte Rules’’ have come to Double-A Trenton.
Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte, one of the most talked about players in the minor leagues due to his ability to throw both left- and right-handed, was added to the Thunder bullpen from Class-A Tampa before Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over Akron at Waterfront Park.
“It’s a novelty, no question about it, and it’s a blessing,’’ Thunder manager Tony Franklin said after Venditte and right-hander Adam Olbrychowski arrived from Tampa. “But I’m curious as to whether he’s going to get outs. That’s all that matters to me.’’
Venditte’s unique talent is anything but a novelty when you break down the career statistics of the Yankees 20th round draft pick from 2008.
In 120 career games spanning 172 2/3 innings, all in relief, the 25-year-old Venditte is 9-3 with a 1.62 ERA. This season at Tampa, Venditte allowed just 49 hits and 15 walks in 72 2/3 innings.
So, what took him so long to get here?
“If you look around here there are great pitchers everywhere,’’ said Venditte, who uses a six-finger glove manufactured by Mizuno. “You can’t say enough about the guys that are already here. I’m getting my opportunity now and I am grateful for it.’’
A natural right-hander, Venditte said he was taught to throw from both sides by his father starting at the age of three. The Yankees initially selected the Omaha, Nebraska native in the 45th round of the 2007 draft, but Venditte told them he needed at least another year to develop and instead chose to attend Creighton University.
When pitching from the right side, Venditte comes over the top with a slider, changeup and fastball in the 87-93 mph range.
Venditte’s lefty delivery is side-arm with just a slider and a low-velocity fastball at his disposal.
When he enters a game, Venditte needs to declare to the home plate umpire which arm he intends to use for the first hitter and cannot change in the middle of an at bat.
“The Pat Venditte Rule’’ has been on the books with the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation (PBUC) since Venditte’s appearance for Staten Island of the N.Y.-Penn. League in June of 2008 and limits the number of times a switch-pitcher and switch-hitter can change sides during an at-bat.
“When a switch-hitter is approaching from the on-deck circle I have to declare to him which way I am going to pitch,’’ Venditte said. “After I do that he decides which way he is going to hit and then neither of us is allowed to switch again during the at bat.’’
Other than Venditte in the modern era, only Greg A. Harris, a veteran of eight major league teams and 703 games from 1981-95, was a switch-pitcher.