Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Top High School Switch Pitchers 2015


Switch Pitchers - Class of 2015

Switch Pitcher Henry Knight, Franklin HS, Seattle
The Class of 2015 has only a handful of notable ambidextrous pitchers, but they are very talented – with the skills to play multiple positions. Plus, they are solid hitters, which is becoming a trademark of ambidextrous players.

This list highlights the top ambidextrous high school baseball players from the class of 2015. Sorted by last name.

-------------------------------------

Cole Critchfield (2015) - Star Valley High School, Afton, Wyoming

Cole Critchfield is a 6'2" athlete who plays basketball and baseball. In the summer, he plays P, 1B, and OF for the Jackson Giants of the American Legion.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tyler Hopman (2015) - Old Bridge, New Jersey


Tyler Hopman
Tyler Hopman is a 6'2" switch pitcher who plays for Old Bridge High School Knights in New Jersey. In an interview, he said that he feels a lot stronger throwing lefty.

When not pitching, Hopman plays center field right-handed. He bats exclusively from the left side.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Kurt Johnson (2015) - Royal High School, Simi Valley, California

Kurt Johnson is a 6'1" ambidextrous thrower who plays 1B and Pitcher. Johnson is listed as a BHP on Perfect Game, with an 80 mph fastball (2013). 
College commitment: Sacramento State as a LHP.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Henry Knight (2015) - Franklin High School, Seattle, Washington

Henry Knight served as a relief pitcher and closer in his third year on varsity. As a switch hitter, he posted a 10-game hitting streak with a .640 OBP.

Henry Knight warming up to switch pitch in a summer game
During the summer, Knight played shortstop, catcher and pitcher for the Columbia City Reds in Seattle. He posted a 0.875 ERA as a closer - helping the  Reds team to a 3rd place finish in the Mickey Mantle state tournament.

Knight threw 94 strikes over 11 innings in a summer game as the starting switch pitcher. He held the Seattle Select team scoreless over the final nine innings in 90 degree heat.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brett Kolacki (2015) - Bremen High School, Midlothian, Illinois

Kolacki is a 6'5" ambidextrous pitcher at Bremen High School. Kolacki throws about the same speed with both arms (75-76 mph). As a junior, he posted 46 strikeouts in 46.2 IP. He plays OF/INF and bats right-handed.



----------------------------------------------------------------------------

High School Switch Pitchers >>


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pablo Sandoval - Kung Fu Panda is ambidextrous

Pablo Sandoval catching (source: Dirk Hansen)
Pro Team: San Francisco Giants
Position: third baseman/first baseman
Number: 48
Height: 5'11"  Weight: 245 lb.  
Throws: Right-handed (since 9-years-old), but is naturally left-handed
Bats: Switch hitter  .303
Born: Aug 11, 1986, Puerto Cabello, Venezuela

World Series MVP in 2012
Pablo Sandoval took home the Most Valuable Player trophy following the San Francisco Giants' sweep of the Detroit Tigers, after hitting .500 with three home runs, a double and four RBIs in 16 Series at-bats.


Pablo Sandoval, nicknamed Kung Fu Panda, is a Major League Baseball player for the San Francisco Giants. Sandoval is an ambidextrous thrower, but only throws right-handed during baseball games.


Sandoval grew up playing left-handed in Venezuela. He reportedly started throwing right-handed at the age of 9, so he could play catcher. Note that Pablo is a switch hitter, which is somewhat common for a player who is ambidextrous.


Pitcher Barry Zito of the Giants started calling Pablo Sandoval, who was catching for him, Kung Fu Panda, after the overweight animated film character. Fans started wearing panda hats and giant panda heads to the ballpark - as seen at the World Series.


"Sandoval became conditioned to taking his hacks as a youth in Venezuela. He grew up playing tape-ball in the family garage with his older brother Michael, who went on to spend six years as a third baseman in the Minnesota Twins' chain.


"I just think he's a natural born hitter," Willie McCovey said. "I went out on a limb last year and said I think he's going to be another Albert Pujols. I know it's high praise, but that's kind of who he reminded me of when he first came up."


Sandoval's hefty frame conceals a natural athleticism; he's ambidextrous and can throw the ball accurately and with zip as both a lefty and a righty. But his range is limited at third, and the Giants are covered at catcher for the short term with Molina and the long term with top prospect Buster Posey. The consensus is that Sandoval will forsake both catching and third base for first base eventually. (Jerry Crasnick, ESPN)



Pablo Sandoval is a switch hitter
"Sandoval is a switch hitter who has struggled from the right side of the plate this year, but Meulens and manager Bruce Bochy believe that Sandoval’s struggles as a right-handed hitter this season are simply explained: He just doesn’t get as many reps against left-handed pitching as he does against right-handed pitching, a common problem for switch-hitters. 

But before every game, Meulens says, Sandoval has made a point of going into the indoor batting cage and taking some right-handed swings against a left-handed batting practice pitcher."
(source: The keys to Pablo Sandoval's success by Buster Olney, ESPN)

Sandoval is a finalist for the Gold Glove at third base

Giants' present plans include Sandoval

Switch-hitter bursts onto scene, and will be starting third baseman to start season




Pablo Sandoval not only has baseball's neatest nickname, Kung Fu Panda has a World Series MVP award to go along with it.
--

Monday, October 20, 2014

Baseball Glove Options for Switch Pitchers

Custom made
 Mizuno ambidextrous glove
Looking for a glove for a switch pitcher?

Here are glove options for ambidextrous pitchers, based on age:

Age 3-5

Kids don't pitch at this age. They should be learning the proper way to throw.

Young kids should try catching the ball with two hands. Use tennis balls or foam balls for throwing. Forget about the low quality plastic glove - it's in the landfill within a year. Gloves are awkward for young kids. If they learn two hand catch when they are young and continue with the skill, they will do well fielding balls when they are older.

Learning to throw with both arms is easy at this stage. If a child can throw with either hand when they are three-years-old, it doesn't mean that they are talented or ambidextrous - it just means that they are a typical kid.

Gloves: Buy a nice leather glove for the player when they are around five-years-old. You might find a nice used glove at a local thrift shop or second-hand sports store that will work.


Age 5-7

Most of these kids play in tee ball or coach pitch. My son started pitching as a 7-year-old, but most kids don't have good throwing mechanics at this age.

Please don't force the your child to pitch -- even if they are left-handed. Not all kids want to be a pitcher. Pitching can be very stressful to kids. They really have to enjoy pitching to become good.

This is a good age to teach kids how to switch hit. Many of the switch pitchers started out as switch hitters. Switch hitting helps with balance and learning the strike zone, which will come in handy when pitching.

Gloves: Two gloves work fine for an ambidextrous thrower. 9-10 inch size. It's better to use a small infield glove than a large outfield glove.

No ambidextrous glove is available for this age.

Have fun learning to throw a baseball.

Watch a 6-year-old practice throwing with both arms


Age 8-10
Switch pitcher using two gloves

Ambidextrous throwers in this group can use two separate gloves since there is rarely a situation where having an ambi glove on the mound will help at this age. Have the kid pitch one inning with each arm and see how well they do facing hitters.

In a game, if the ambidextrous pitcher needs to switch gloves, then the coach can call time and get the other glove from the dugout. Using two gloves worked well for the best ambidextrous pitchers. There is no need to switch gloves for one hitter. Winning just isn't that important at this age. Remember the game should be fun.

Gloves: Use two separate gloves for switch pitching. Different color gloves make in easy to gab the correct one. 10-11.5 inch size

Don't think about ordering a custom ambidextrous glove until your child can throw well with boths arms or else you are waisting money.

Training glove: Valle Baseball makes a nice ambidextrous pancake glove. This flat training glove does not have a pocket, so it forces you to use two hands.  My son loves his pancake glove and his teammates find it challenging to use. Cost is around $40 for the Valle Flat Ambi Pancake Glove  www.vallebaseball.com


Age 10-12

Players this age should really work on developing good throwing mechanics. It's time for pitching lessons.

Switch Pitchers can use two separate gloves without a problem. Pitch lefty one inning, then switch to righty the next. Or pitch two innings left, then the third inning right. Lefties are valuable in games since they have an advantage over most hitters. Make sure to spend extra time throwing left-handed.

The exception might be in tournament play where pitchers mainly throw with the dominant arm.

Let the umpire know before the game that the player is planning to use both arms for pitching. Check to make sure the umpires know the rules regarding switch pitching. Note that the pitch count is still the same for one player - they don't count each arm separately.

Most umpires really enjoy calling games with a switch pitcher. It's something they can share with their buddies.


Gloves:

Most switch pitchers will use two separate gloves that are different styles or colors. 11.5" size is common (range 11" - 12").

If the kid has adult-sized hands, and is a solid pitcher from both sides, then you can order the ambidextrous glove from Akadema (see below). This is the only "stock" ambidextrous glove available and it is ready for delivery within a week.

Custom made gloves are $200-$600+ and it takes 4 to 6 weeks for delivery. That's just too much money to spend on a glove at this age. I read that it's hard to find a manufacturer that will make a custom ambidextrous glove.



Switch pitcher Henry Knight using an

Akadema ABX-00 Ambidextrous Glove


Age 13-14

If the player really can pitch well in games with both arms, then you might consider using an ambidextrous glove. Kids are playing more games at this age and owning a quality glove is a good idea. Many of the utility players own multiple gloves for different positions - pitcher, first base, catcher, infield or outfield. It's amazing the money parents shell out for sports equipment (but it won't make the kid a better player). One ambidextrous glove could cost less that two quality right- and left-handed gloves.

Gloves: 
Many switch pitchers use two separate gloves that are different styles or colors. 11.5"-12" size

A quality ambidextrous glove is available from Akadema (ABX-00: Ambidextrous, 12" model $120). My son uses the 12" model - the only option available. This is a stock glove, but you will not find these in any stores. Order online from Akadema. They only produce about 100 per year (made in China). You can have a smaller custom glove made by Akadema for around $200. Visit www.akademapro.com



This six-finger ambidextrous glove is from the Akadema Pro Soft Series. The leather glove features four finger slots, plus two adjustable thumb loops (using velcro tabs). Like most quality gloves, this ambi glove is very stiff at first. If you follow the old-time break-in process, with glove oil and playing catch daily, then the glove works fine after a couple of weeks. Learn about Breaking in Your Glove

The Akadema ambi glove is a bit too large for an 11 or 12-year old player since it is an adult size glove. The glove is symetrical with no webbing, so it looks different and a lot larger than the 11.5" style of infield glove. Be prepared to use two hands on every catch until the pocket is formed since the ambi glove does not have the conventional webbing. Young fielders should try to use two hands to catch the ball, since they often have trouble squeezing a glove with one hand. So this turns out to be a good training glove.

The Akadema Ambidextrous Glove in Action

Switch pitcher Henry Knight using an Akadema ambidextrous glove


After about two weeks of regular use, the pocket breaks-in and the ambidextrous glove works really well in practice. It might take a month of regular use to make the Akadema ambi glove game-ready. The glove spreads out nicely for scooping up grounders. It's large enough to use in the outfield.


Custom Crafted Ambidextrous Glove

This cool looking ambidextrous glove, crafted by Carpenter Trade, uses state-of-the-art synthetic materials making it stronger and lighter than conventional gloves. The ambi glove was designed by Scott Carpenter after consulting with Pat Venditte the famous switch pitcher with the NY Yankees organization. All Carpenter Gloves are custom made to fit each individual. The glove maker is based near Copperstown, N.Y.


Carpenter Trade on Twitter @CarpenterTrade


Carpenter gloves are unrivaled in craftsmanship, performance, and customization. If you dare to be different, visit  CarpenterTrade.com


High School

Using two separate gloves is still a good option for games. There just aren't that many left-handed hitters playing baseball, so most of the pitching will be done right-handed against righties. The advantage of switching sides at this stage is to rest the dominant arm.

Two Pitching Gloves

The top high school player in Washington state, Drew Vettleson, was a switch-pitcher. Vettleson used two gloves and his strategy worked well for switch pitching.

"Drew Vettleson would take two baseball gloves with him out to the mound when he pitched for Central Kitsap High School in Washington. If he was pitching with his left arm, he tossed his left-handed glove to the back of the mound. Pitching as a righty, Vettleson would switch gloves and toss the other to the back of the mound". (source: milb.com)

Vettleson, a power hitter, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays as an outfielder. The Tampa Rays named Drew Vettleson the MVP of the Princeton (W.Va.) Rays, their rookie league team in the Appalachain League.

Ambidextrous Pitcher Glove

Ryan Perez, a dominant switch pitcher from the Chicago-area has a six-finger glove from Akadema. His fastball tops out at 90 mph from the right side and up to 94 mph left-handed. Watch Ryan pitching.

According to a report in the Chicago Sun Times, Perez threw a complete game no-hitter left-handed, then came back later in the day and threw four innings of two-hit, shutout relief right-handed.


High school switch pitcher Aubrey McCarty uses a custom Mizuno ambidextrous glove. McCarty signed a letter of intent to pitch for Vanderbilt University in 2014. Aubrey McCarty was drafted in 2013 by the SF Giants, but he decided to get a good education and is playing in college. Vandy won the College World Series in 2014.


College

If you pitch in college, then it's time to buy a custom ambidextrous glove with your name on it.  The custom six-finger glove could bring you some extra attention in the press.


Pat Vindette used a custom Louisville Slugger TPX Ambidextrous glove at Creighton University. The  leather glove has 6-fingers, with 4-finger holes plus two thumb loops. It looks cool and was easy to change from one hand to the other.

You can custom order the Louisville Slugger ambidextrous glove for $399.99 by calling 1-800-282-2287 and a representative would be happy to assist you. (updated June 2012)

The Mizuno GMP1A ambidextrous glove is $450 and it takes 4-6 weeks to deliver.  

Carpenter Trade crafts custom gloves to fit each individual. Gloves range in price from $400 for a conventional style to $600 for an ambidextrous glove. Learn more at CarpenterTrade.com



Big League

Pat Vindette, a minor league pitcher with the NY Yankees organization, uses a custom six finger glove made by Mizuno. (Contact Mizuno by phone or email).
A big leaguer can arrange a sponsorship deal with the glove manufacturer.




Good luck.
...