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The Octopus Pitcher – can Pat Venditte Make It in the Major Leagues?

Frank Doyle wonders if the Yankees’ switch pitching prospect has what it takes to make it in Major League Baseball.

Switch hitter? Yawn. Bats right, throws left? Zzz. Little person with a foot and half strike zone? Eddie Gaedel, St Louis Browns, one at bat against the Tigers in Sportsman’s Park, St Louis, on August 19, 1951. Heard it.

But a pitcher who throws left and right? That makes a man sit up and take notice.

The New York Yankees have not made the same splash in the off season as they did last year when they bought Mark Teixeira, AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia last year, but they certainly caught the attention of people who like MLB betting when they sent a switch pitcher to the hill in a spring training game against the Braves on Tuesday.

Yankee skipper Joe Giraldi says he first noticed Pat Venditte (nicknamed El Pulpo, The Octopus) when Venditte made 22 saves with a 1.87 ERA in Class-A ball. When Giraldi heard Venditte pitched left and right as well, he just had to have a look. And that’s why Giraldi sent Venditte in against the Braves. It’s not something you get to see every day.

The only other pitcher in modern baseball history to pitch left and right was Greg A. Harris, who played for nine different clubs in the 80s and 90s and finished with a career of 74-90, 3.69 ERA and 1,141 strikeouts. But that’s kind of a cheat, because Harris pitched righty for all of his fourteen year career. He only pitched lefty in the second last game of his career, for the Expos against the Cincinnati Reds.

But Venditte is different. Venditte pitches lefties lefty and righties righty, switching his six-fingered glove as they come to the plate. There’s fun when a switch hitter turns up, as you can imagine.

Venditte doesn’t bring heat. He was measured at 89 mph right handed and a gentle 82 mph lefty on Tuesday against the Braves, and that will stand against him in the big leagues.

Venditte has a serious selection of pitches to choose from, but you can only live on that for so long. Every pitcher needs a pitch he can absolutely count on when his world is falling apart, the bases are filling around him and a mean old slugger is flexing his muscles in the on-deck circle.

It remains to be seen if any of Venditte’s pitches are of the calibre that earns you a place in the show, and a prominent Yankees blogger has his doubts. But for MLB betting at the start of the season, Venditte is a fun joker to come in from the bullpen and liven things up a little. ¡Viva el pulpo!

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