Next up in the Pinch Hitters series is one of our most unexpected guests, Frankie Piliere, who volunteered a scouting report on switch-pitcher Pat Venditte.
When Sam and I asked for pinch hitters, we didn’t expect an offer from Piliere, a former professional scout and current writer for AOL Fanhouse. I’ve linked to Frankie in the past, but certainly had no plan of asking him to write a post. The week after we asked for pinch hitters, though, Frankie emailed to say he’d seen Venditte, had plenty of notes on him and would like to write a guest post on the young Yankees pitcher.
We certainly weren’t going to turn that down.
There is not a more interesting prospect in baseball than Pat Venditte. Hundreds are better, but none are as fascinating. We know the story by now. He’s the guy who can pitch both right-handed and left-handed.
How do you even scout a player like this? That was my first thought when I went over the Charleston RiverDogs’ roster before I began my coverage. For one, a pitcher that throws both ways doesn’t fit very neatly into a scouting report sheet. It’s the equivalent of scouting two pitchers at once. He really is two completely different pitchers, with a different arsenal, different delivery, and a different approach from each side.
My expectations were low. I didn’t expect much more than a side show or a gimmick. While he’s hardly a top prospect, Pat Venditte is more than just a gimmick.
It’s from this side that the stuff is a little closer to the norm you see at the Major League level from Venditte. The stuff is fringy but close to big league average. His fastball sits at 88-91 mph, and he has plus command of this pitch. He produces a little arm-side run down the zone, and can pick at corners with big league maturity. This type of command will need to be there, however, because he’s just not overpowering enough.
His breaking ball from this side will need to improve. It’s fringy at best right now, grading out as a 4 on the 2-8 scale. It flashes average, and the consistency and sharpness will need to make progress if he’s going to pitch from this side at the big league level. The curveball comes in consistently at 72-74 mph, reaching 75 at times with 11-5 action. His command is good enough to keep hitters off balance, but he’s not going to produce swings and misses at the next level. Everything will hinge on his command.
He has limited deception from the right side, as opposed to his delivery from the left side, which we’ll look at in a moment. Venditte is polished, but it’s going to be a struggle to get by with his current right-handed stuff.
If he’s going to make it as a big leaguer, he’s going to need to be Mike Myers, or someone of that nature. It’s from this side that Venditte is a bit more interesting, but only interesting to the point of possibly being a left-handed specialist.
His fastball from this side is only around 81-85 mph from a funky, side arm type delivery. He’s very tough to pick up and has the appearance that he’s throwing from behind lefty hitters. Few pitchers make lefties look as bad and absolutely lost as Venditte can. It’s his breaking ball from this side that gives them fits. The big, sweeping breaking ball comes in at 68-71 mph with huge lateral action and a nice tilt. And, this is where he makes his living. He has learned to spot a pitch with an exceptionally large break on the outside part of the plate. The pitch and his command of it both grade out as plus.
If he can locate against big league hitters the way he’s done at the minor league level, he has an opportunity to succeed. His upside is very limited, and he is going to be what he already is right now.
In other words, Venditte is more than a side show, and does have enough going for him to be considered a potential big leaguer. But, his margin for error is very small.