Mailbag: Pat Venditte

Bernie Williams and the Hall of Fame
Report: Jorge to announce his retirement
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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.

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Bernie Williams and the Hall of Fame
Report: Jorge to announce his retirement
  • John White

    but would he pass the Mitre test?

    • RetroRob

      Nope. Not as good as Mitre.

  • LGY

    Would be neat to see him in the Big Leagues some time. Hope he makes it, eventually even if it means for him to pitch some meaningless innings.

  • CJ

    It would be fun to see him as a relief pitcher he could be decent.
    It would be more fun to see him baffle Jon sterling and have Michael Kay count pitches from both sides.

  • Accent Shallow

    Wait, he’s up to low-90s from the right side? I thought he was more 87-89? If he’s in the 90s, that changes my opinion of him from “sideshow” to “maybe potential contributor at some point”.

    And yes, I realize how silly this post sounds.

  • stuart phillips

    Cashman stinks.!!!

  • Bo Knows

    I’ve heard of another switch pitcher that’s supposed to be eligible in either this upcoming draft or the one after but I heard that kid throws in the 90’s from both sides.

    • Bo Knows

      And I forgot to add the kid throws FB, cutter, curve, and supposedly a changeup (not sure why one would bother learning a change if you can just simply switch arms to gain a platoon advantage) for both arms.

      • Sayid J.

        Does he have a name?

        And change-ups are important regardless of the arm your throw with.

        • Bo Knows

          Ryan Perez I believe, also changes are really weapons for opposite hand hitters, only those with either big balls or really good changes throw them to same side hitters which is why I find it strange

      • the Oberamtmann

        For switch-hitters?

        Also, I’m sick of arguments like “he’s too old for his level” when they are used to downplay prospects like Venditte. He hasn’t been given an opportunity to face properly-aged opponents. Given how many crappy ML pitchers throw slop and still kill same-side batters, I actually think that Venditte could be successful for a few years at the ML level. As long as they don’t wait too long.

        • Bo Knows

          I didn’t even think about that good catch

        • Jose M. Vazquez..

          I agree with your opinion,but I’m afraid he will go the Jorge Vazquez road, never to sniff a big league inning.

          • the Oberamtmann

            At least with Vazquez there are performance reasons to believe he might not perform at the big-league level (strikeout rate; walk rate). Venditte’s performance and peripherals are excellent. Scouts doubt his stuff alone. I understand their hesitance, but if he’s been performing, bump him up another level to AAA and if he has another year like last year give him a cup of coffee and see what happens.

          • YankeesJunkie

            I disagree merely on the fact that there tends to be a lot of pretty good first basemen out there are already and they are not flexible. There is much more room on the roster for someone to make in the bullpen and also the oddity that Venditte can switch pitch thus get platoon advantages will lead to one team giving him a shot at the majors. That team will most likely not be the Yankees though. I know for fact that a couple years ago he was working on his MBA so either way he has something to look forward to.

      • RetroRob

        I saw a scout within the last few months who basically said it’s a shame more kids don’t try and switch-pitch, suggesting with the right pitcher it could be more than a publicity stunt. He didnt’ think Venditte had enough, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea to try for a reliever.

  • John Cerra

    I think Venditte is going to surprise people this spring.

  • Joemoes

    problem is our 40 man is full. Maybe if someone goes down or is terrible maybe if we let Feliciano go but they would prolly add Banuelos. We add alot of our starting pitchers from minors over our relief pitchers it seems to get the guys who have potential some experience and let them work out of the pen. I like this guy alot and wish he would get a shot or we could package him to a team for a fringe outfielder or something to see if one of the teams hits gold.

  • Dr B

    I would not be surprised to see him back at AA this year, but I would certainly be disappointed. His numbers have ranged from good to excellent at every level, so I would think it would be a no-brainer to test him out. If he fails, that’s no different than half of the other call-ups we see.

    Besides the platoon and durability advantages, I think the extremely low walk count is probably his best trump card. Far too many of these schmoes we see brought up can’t find the plate at all. I don’t know how many times I’ve said “Just throw strikes!” at the TV, and with Venditte it seems like I wouldn’t need to.