Sunday, April 26, 2015

Top High School Switch Pitchers 2015

Switch Pitcher Henry Knight, 12:1 strike-to-walk ratio

Ambidextrous Pitchers - Class of 2015

The Class of 2015 has only a handful of switch pitchers, but they are very talented – with the skills to play multiple positions. One ambidextrous fielder has played every position for the varsity team. 

Most of these pitchers are naturally left-handed, but wanted to field other positions when they were young, so they started throwing right-handed. Plus, most ambidextrous players are solid hitters, which is becoming a trademark of this unique group.

Three switch pitchers have signed to play in college. 

One ambidextrous pitcher caught the attention of coaches around the country, but he decided to study computer science at a university without a baseball team. 

Another three-sport athlete was called to serve on a mission in Cambodia. 

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.  As a natural lefty, he hits left-handed and his primary position is first base. Velocity is 81-85 mph left-handed. 

Critchfield was called to serve in the Cambodia Phnom Penh mission.


Tyler Hopman (2015) - Old Bridge, New Jersey

Tyler Hopman
Tyler Hopman is a 6'5" 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. Velocity is 82 mph left-handed. 

When not pitching, Hopman plays center field right-handed. He bats exclusively from the left side.

College: Saint Peter's University, NJ

Kurt Johnson (2015) - Royal High School, Simi Valley, California

Kurt Johnson
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). Threw a no-hitter as a freshman pitching five innings left-handed and the last two right-handed.

College: Sacramento State as a LHP.


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

Henry Knight is a switch hitter and ambidextrous pitcher who has played every  position in high school. At 5'8", Knight is a quick infielder with an excellent glove - starting on varsity since his freshman year.

Knight also serves as a relief pitcher and closer – recording the best strikeout-to-walk ratio (12:1) in the Seattle Metro league. As a student of the game, he combines a mental approach to pitching with Perry Husband's theory of Effective Velocity to throw off the hitter's approach and timing.

As a switch hitter, he posted a 10-game hitting streak with a .640 OBP. In the past 4 years, he hit over .500 in summer ball – swinging a wood bat.

Henry Knight warming up to switch pitch in a summer game
During the summer, Knight played shortstop, second base, 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 hard-hitting Seattle Select team scoreless over the final nine innings in 90 degree heat.

College: Western Washington University, Computer Science


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

Brett Kolacki
Kolacki is a 6'5" ambidextrous pitcher at Bremen High School.  As a junior, he posted 46 strikeouts in 46.2 IP. He plays OF/INF and bats right-handed. Kolacki is naturally left-handed, but throws about the same speed with both arms. Velocity is 80-83 mph left-handed.

College: Concordia University in Wisconsin


High School Switch Pitchers >>


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Chances of a switch pitcher playing in college

What are the chances of a switch pitcher playing college baseball?

Pat Venditte - Switch Pitching for Creighton University
The chances are very good for a switch pitcher to play in college. Most ambidextrous pitchers attend D1 universities.

But since ambidextrous athletes are versatile baseball players and typically good hitters ... they are more likely to field a position, than to pitch in college.

College Bound Student-Athletes - 

Ambidextrous pitchers are usually very good students and extremely hard workers, so the majority go on to attend college – on academic scholarships.

Most of the starting high school switch pitchers have the command and velocity needed to play baseball  in college at some level. They also have the positive attitude, work ethic, coachability, and character that college coaches value.

Be Proactive and Contact Coaches

However, colleges coaches aren't spending their value time recruiting switch pitchers, so players must be proactive and contact coaches where they want to play and where there is a good academic fit.

The Numbers - 

Switch pitchers are very rare. 
Each year there are only two to eight high school seniors who are switch pitchers.

Over the past decade,  >70% of the eligible high school switch pitchers have gone on to play baseball in college each year.

Recent College Recruits

In 2015, 3-of-5 switch pitchers signed a letter of intent to play college baseball.

Two of the best ambidextrous pitchers made other plans. One three-sport athlete was called to serve a mission in Cambodia, while another student-athlete received an academic scholarship to study computer science at a university without a baseball team.

Some ambidextrous players start out playing in junior college, while others play at small four-year colleges; but the majority of switch pitchers are recruited to play Division I baseball.

Where did Venditte play college ball?
Pat Venditte, switch pitched for Creighton University (Division I). He was drafted twice by the New York Yankees and currently pitches in the minor league.  

 Ambi pitchers in the Ivy League? 
Two switch pitchers played baseball for Harvard University.

Do any switch pitchers get a chance pitch in college?

Yes, a few ambidextrous pitchers got a chance to pitch in college games.

Marcus Garcia is a switch pitcher from California who plays for Sierra College.

Ryan Perez, a switch pitcher from Illinois, throws both ways for Judson University. 
In 2014, Perez was an MVP in the Cape Cod League.

Pat Venditte was a successful relief pitcher for Creighton University.

Ambidextrous throwers who can switch hit

Some ambidextrous players are recruited to field a position - depending their fielding and hitting skills. It turns out that many switch pitchers are very good hitters.

About half of the ambidextrous pitchers are also switch hitters!

Aubrey McCarty, a 6' 3" switch pitcher and switch hitter from Georgia, was drafted by the SF Giants in 2013, but he decided to attend Vanderbilt University to get a good education and play college baseball.

Switch Pitchers in the MLB Draft

The most talented switch pitchers are drafted – about one a year. But they usually get drafted for their  fielding skills and ability to hit left-handed.

Drew Vettleson, a top-ranked high school player from Washington, was recruited to play Pac12 baseball with Oregon State, but was drafted in the supplemental first round. Vettleson decided to pursue  his dream of playing professional baseball and is now playing outfield for the Washington Nationals in the minor league.

Check out the List of Switch Pitchers >>

Friday, April 24, 2015

Catcher Connor Clark can Switch-Hit and Switch-Pitch

Connor Clark
Lubbock HS – Lubbock, TX (2016)
Connor Clark (Photo: Baseball Factory)

Postions: Catcher, RHP/LHP
Throws: Both 
Bats: Both

Clark is primarily a right-handed catcher, who has the ability to throw with both arms. He is athletic with a good pop time.

Connor Clark Switch-Hits and Switch-Pitches in Northwest Texas

Andy Ferguson, April 1, 2015
Connor Clark did a little bit of everything on Sunday March 15 at Wayland Baptist University in Planview, TX — as the Under Armour Baseball Factory National Tryout tour rolled through Northwest Texas, with a stop in the Lubbock area.
As if it weren’t enough to be a switch-hitting catcher, he also jumped on the mound and threw pitches as both a right and left-hander. As a position player, his tools were solid to above-average pretty much across the board. 
His tools fell off when he got on the mound, especially left-handed, but it was impressive nonetheless to see a switch-pitcher (I’m not really sure that’s exactly what you call it, but it sounds good enough to me).
A 2016 graduate (Lubbock HS – Lubbock, TX), Clark posted a respectable 7.15 in the 60 yard dash, fell just short of nine feet in the broad jump at 8-foot-9, and posted release times between 2.03 and 2.20.