Dylan asks: What happened to Pat Venditte? I know the Yanks didn’t protect him, so he could have been snatched up by some other team, but I never heard if that happened? Do the Yanks still have control over him, and where will he spend this season?
The Yankees didn’t lose any players in the Rule 5 Draft last month, so Venditte is still in the organization. He spent the last few months pitching in winter ball in Mexico, striking out 46 batters and walking just seven in 42.1 relief innings. He did give up six homers though (1.28 HR/9), which is very uncharacteristic for him (0.44 HR/9 in the minors). Overall, Venditte threw 132.1 IP in 2011.
Like big leaguers, minor league players need six full years of service time to become minor league free agents. The Yankees drafted Venditte in 2008, so they still control his rights through 2014. There’s a pretty good chance that he’ll be sent back to Double-A Trenton this year just because of the numbers crunch in the Triple-A Scranton bullpen, though he did perform fairly well there last season: 8.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 90 IP. Pretty good, but not nearly as good as what he did from 2008-2010: 11.2 K/9 and 1.9 K/9 in 174.2 IP.
We all know Venditte does the switch-pitcher thing, but it’s worth noting that he does have a pretty significant platoon split. He’s held left-handed batters to a .191/.238/.253 batting line with 33.4% strikeouts and 6.1% walks since 2009, but right-handers have gotten him for a .240/.286/.367 batting line with the same walk rate but just 22.6% strikeouts. Venditte’s stuff from the right side — low-90’s fastball with an over-the-top curveball — has always been considered better than his stuff from the left side — mid-80’s heat and a slider — but so far he’s gotten better results as a southpaw. It could just be a sample size issue; we’re only talking 400 or so plate appearances as a lefty and about 500 as a righty.
I figured that some team would pop Venditte in the Rule 5 Draft just to take a look at him in Spring Training, but ultimately no one decided he was worth the $50k draft price (only $25k if he ends up being returned). He’ll probably go back to Double-A to start the year before a midseason promotion comes into play, but as always, he remains a fringe prospect. The ambidextrous thing means more attention, but not more ability.