You might have heard about the Major League debut of 29-year-old Pat Venditte with the Oakland Athletics this past week. Assuming he remains in the Majors for a while, Venditte could soon have a fellow ambidextrous pitcher. Ryan Perez was taken in the 2015 MLB Draft in the 12th round by the Cleveland Indians.
Perez is a switch-pitcher from Judson University, an NAIA institution. He can top at over 90 MPH with both arms, although he was selected more for his ability to pitch with his left arm. The junior is only the second MLB Draft selection from Judson.
After having Tommy John surgery on his right arm after his senior year in high school, Perez was used mainly as a LHP his first season in college. There in lies the advantage of having two arms to pitch with, if one of them is injured or requires surgery.
The Cape Cod League was where Perez especially dazzled, earning the All-Star Game MVP after his use of both arms in the contest.
In an era where teams try to mimic the best practices of other organizations (think Moneyball), the Cleveland Indians have taken a chance on what has been a successful move so far by the Athletics. Venditte spent many years in the Yankees’ minor leagues before finally making in the Majors with Oakland, and he has had success in the start of his Major League Career.
Perez is still very far away from cracking a Major League roster of his own, but it will be interesting to see how his career pans out. If he pitches well and shows effectiveness with both arms, this could be a trend of the future for young baseball players.
There is the ever-heated debate over how much kids should pitch from the time they first take the field all the way to a big league mound. If more pitchers begin to use both their left and right arms on the mound, there will be new pitching limit rules to be considered as well as the drafting strategy of ambidextrous pitchers.
Baseball rarely has new styles of play brought upon itself, from left-handed bullpen specialists to extreme defensive shifts. The ambidextrous pitcher could be the next big thing, as Venditte and Ryan Perez headline the fathom that so few players have the ability to pull off.