Sunday, September 30, 2012

David Ricker - UNC Asheville

David Ricker 
Hometown: Edneyville, North Carolina
High School: Hendersonville High School (Class of 2006)
College: UNC Asheville (2009-2011), University of Maine (2007)

Height: 6'3"  Weight: 235
Positions: LHP/RHP, 1B (LHP in college)
Bats: Switch hitter
Throws: Both, ambidextrous
Velocity: 86 mph left-handed in 2005

Dominant Arm: Natural Lefty
"I think he throws harder and his ball moves a little more when he's pitching left-handed. He throws a lot more off-speed pitches when he's a right-hander." - Hendersonville coach Mark Cook

David Ricker was an ambidextrous pitcher at Hendersonville High School in North Carolina.

Ricker earned All-State, All-Conference, and All-Area awards as a senior at Hendersonville for head coach Mark Cook...played for the East Cobb Astros AAU team which won the 16U National Championship... made it to the quarterfinals of the 2005 18 UWWBA wooden bat national championship. As a senior, David Ricker was named an N.C. Scholar.

Baseball Profile and Statistics

#30 David Ricker - UNC Asheville Bulldogs

David Ricker Baseball Profile - Perfect Game USA
As many followers of HS baseball know, Ricker is not only a switch hitter, but he is also a switch pitcher. He can comfortably pitch with both arms and can get hitters out either way. His fastball topped out at 85 while throwing left-handed, and 83 while throwing right-handed.

In the News

Bear hope to overcome adversity. Ambidextrous pitcher, starting catcher dismissed
By Pete Warner, Bangor Daily News, Mar 22, 2007

The Black Bears faced additional adversity upon their return to campus, as sophomore catcher Sean Parker of Worcester, Mass., and ambidextrous freshman pitcher David Ricker of Hendersonville, N.C., were dismissed from the team fro violating team rules, according to a UMaine statement released Wednesday.

Ricker pitched in four game for the Black Bears, yielding 17 hits and 15 earned runs for a 27.00 earned run average. Read more

Edward Jones / Times-News Prep Player of the Week

Bearcat right- and left-handed pitcher headed to play in Maine in the fall

May 2, 2006

David Ricker is well-armed to say the least and his unique talent gives him an advantage over most high school pitchers.
The Hendersonville star is ambidextrous, and his rare ability allows him to baffle opponents and spectators, including his coach.
"I've never seen anything like it," said Hendersonville coach Mark Cook. "He just picks up a glove and changes hands."
Read more

Play at the plate

By Jeremy Trantham
Times-News Staff Writer

May 12, 2006

The Bearcats (10-9, 7-5) took a 10-0 lead after four innings and held on for a 10-5 Western Highlands Conference win over the Wolverines (12-12, 7-5) behind 14 strikeouts from ace David Ricker. Ricker also homered and scored twice as Hendersonville clinched the only automatic 1-A playoff berth from the 1-A/2-A WHC.
"I was real pleased with the kids today, they played well," said Hendersonville coach Mark Cook. "We still had that one inning that comes back to get us -- that's been haunting us all year. But they really hit the ball well today and David threw a great game, left- and right-handed."

Double Trouble

Hendersonville sophomore Ricker can bring it -- with either arm

March 21, 2004
A double-barreled shotgun -- that's the best way to describe Hender-sonville baseball coach Jerry Smith's latest weapon.
He's a 6-2, 205-pound sophomore pitcher who is all muscle. His name is David Ricker, and he can reach in the mid-80s when he delivers from his powerful left arm.
But his right arm is just as powerful, as he can get over 80 with it as well from the mound, which is something Smith has seen just one other time in his career.
Read more

Steve Butz ambidextrous pitcher

Steve Butz

High School: Central Catholic High School (1989)

Hometown: Lafayette, Indiana

Positions: LHP/RHP
Throws: Both, ambidextrous

Pitches: fastball, curve ball and forkball with either arm

Gloves: used two gloves for pitching

Dominant arm
Butz said: "I personally like pitching left-handed better. I throw harder left-handed, but I have more control right-handed. I can place the ball a lot better."

In high school, Butz played outfield and first base left-handed and all other infield positions right-handed.

How many warmup pitches does a switch pitcher get?

Butz's coach has had a running argument with umpires about how many warmup pitches he should get when he changes sides. The young either-hander now is looking for a glove he can turn inside out so he can switch sides at will. (The Milwaukee Journal - Jan 28, 1986)
The Milwaukee Journal - Jan 28, 1986

According the the rulebook, a switch pitcher gets the same number of warmup throws as a regular pitcher (8 throws), which makes getting ready to pitch a bit of a challenge. Some ambidextrous pitchers throw four pitches from each side, for eight total throws, during the first appearance on the mound. If they switch throwing arms within a inning, they do not get additional throws. This means that they often start off an inning pitching with their non-dominant arm, then switch to the dominant hand, if needed, in relief. 

College Recruit
INDIANA Pitcher Steve Butz of Lafayette Central Catholic High signed a baseball letter of intent to attend St. Joseph's College. The 6-1 left-hander had a 10-3 ... (USA Today - Aug 19, 1988)

How Steve Butz got started throwing with both arms

Butz has two theories about how he started throwing with both hands. He's not too sure about one--that when he threw rocks as a youngster, his three older brothers made him throw with both hands.

The other theory also involves his brothers, Larry, Alan and Mike.

"Whenever they let me play ball with them, they didn't have a left-handed mitt for me, so I couldn't even use my left hand," Butz said. "When I was warming up to pitch and my right arm was kind of tired, I threw it with my left, and it felt kind of good." (source: AP, 1985)

Ambidextrous Pitcher, 15, Ruining Baseball Strategy

July 03, 1985|Associated Press
LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Steve Butz of Central Catholic High School can make that familiar piece of baseball strategy, bringing in a right-handed batter to face the left-handed pitcher, meaningless.
All Butz needs to do is call timeout, get another glove and throw with his other arm.
The 15-year-old can throw fastballs, curves and forkballs with either arm. He plays outfield and first base left-handed and all other infield positions right-handed.

Different versions of the AP story was printed in newspapers around the country:

Lefty, Righty? Forget Normal Bat Strategy
Daytona Beach Morning Journal | July 3, 1985

This hurler can pitch with 2 arms
Star-News - July 3, 1985

Pitcher tough on two sides
The Montreal Gazette  - July 3, 1985
Read Article

Left, right, left, right

The Milwaukee Journal - Jan 28, 1986
Read Article

It was interesting to learn that there were successful ambidextrous pitchers long before Pat Venditte came along. 

MLB Official Rules - Pitcher

When a pitcher takes his position at the beginning of each inning, or when he relieves another pitcher, he shall be permitted to pitch not to exceed eight preparatory pitches to his catcher during which play shall be suspended. A league by its own action may limit the number of preparatory pitches to less than eight preparatory pitches. Such preparatory pitches shall not consume more than one minute of time. If a sudden emergency causes a pitcher to be summoned into the game without any opportunity to warm up, the umpire-in-chief shall allow him as many pitches as the umpire deems necessary.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Discussion Forums

Ask questions and share answers on the online forums. 

Here are a few forums that focus on ambidextrous pitching:

Ambidextrous Pitcher Forum -
   Ambidextrous pitching and gloves

Ambidextrous Pitcher Forum -
   Rules for ambidextrous pitchers

Ambidextrous Pitcher Forum -
   Ambidextrous pitchers in the majors

High School Baseball WebMessage Board Forums


Answers to common questions about ambidextrous pitching:

Does anyone know if an ambidextrous pitcher can pitch 85 pitches right handed and then pitch the rest of the game left handed? 

A: No, a pitcher has a single pitch count, regardless of the arm used.

What would happen if an ambidextrous pitcher faced a switch-hitting batter?

Switch Hitter VS Switch Pitcher - YouTube

(Rule 8.01) regarding ambidextrous pitchers stating that a "pitcher must visually indicate to the umpire, batter and runner(s) which way he will begin pitching to the batter."
Read more

Is there a rule for ambidextrous pitchers?
Is there any rule that states an ambidextrous pitcher must declare which hand he will throw?

Also, learn about the Pitchers Glove Rules 

(Rule 8.01) regarding ambidextrous pitchers stating that a "pitcher must visually indicate to the umpire, batter and runner(s) which way he will begin pitching to the batter."

Who is the ambidextrous pitcher in the pros?
Pat Venditte is the minor league switch pitcher with the NY Yankees organization. Venditte threw right- and left-handed as a relief pitcher for Creighton University.

Are there any ambidextrous pitchers at the college level?
Yes, Ryan Perez is a switch pitcher for Judson University. Perez is know for throwing 90 mph with both arms. 

What are the cost/benefits of ambidextrous baseball pitching at the college level? 
Pros:It's a cool talent to have and it will help market your name.It's great to have another hand to turn to if you can play outfield.Lefty's have better curveballs...even when they're also righties. 

Cons:It is a lot more work, if you aren't willing to put the time in don't try it.It is more stress on the back, sometimes my back got sore after pitching lefty.Getting a soft throw touch with the alternate hand is difficult, I would try to actively develop that if I could do it again.
Can a batter switch to batting LH from RH and vice versa? Between pitches?

This happened in Washington State in a HS playoff game a few years ago.  Pitcher switched arms, batter switched boxes and back forth they went until the umpire stopped play and made them choose.  This led to a rule change in Washington permitting one change per batter/hitter per inning. The pitcher was Drew Vettleson, a rising prospect in the Tampa Rays system (OF).  He was a fine HS pitcher and threw both right and left.
source: HS Baseball Web

Saturday, September 22, 2012

D.J. Hoagboon

Born: February 26, 1992
Hometown: Mayfield, N.Y.

High School: Mayfield Central School, Class of 2010
Positions: Ambidextrous Pitcher, Catcher
Gloves: left-handed and right-handed gloves

College: University at Albany (D-I level)
Positions: C/INF/OF
Height: 6-1   Weight: 190
Bats: Left 
Throws: Right (in college)

Albany, NY - FOX23 Local Sports -- Ambidextrous Pitcher D.J. Hoagboon

In 2010, D.J. Hoagboon was the #1 and #2 pitcher for Mayfield High School. #1 from the right-side and #2 from the left. As a switch pitcher, his velocity is about the same from either side, but he has better control right-handed. The coaches say that he is a very good catcher and now plays outfield, first base, and catcher in college.

Mayfield High School: Four-year letterwinner at Mayfield... Two-time team captain...Was named Under Armour Pre-Season All-American... Named WAC MVP...Batted .532 as a senior and compiled 142 hits, 37 doubles, 9 triples and 17 homeruns over his four-year career for Mayfield...Also a three-year member of the Mayfield basketball team.

As switch pitcher, Hoagboon had a record of 5-6-1 with 92 strikeouts and 34 walks in 12 starts as a senior. He was named to the Under Armour All-American Team.

Hoagboon offered advice to any kids playing sports.
"Try everything you can, you never know what you can do," he said "Find something that seems to come natural to you. Work on it. You never know where it will take you."

DJ Hoagboon Bio - University at Albany Baseball
2012 - Leading hitter for the Great Danes with a .318 batting average and .398 on-base percentage. Made 41 starts as a utility player.

DJ Hoagboon Stats - The Baseball Cube

#44 D.J. Hoagboon - Amsterdam Mohawks

Derek Hoagboon Baseball Stats - 2009-10 MaxPreps

Derek Hoagboon Baseball Profile | Perfect Game USA
C, LHP, OF; Fastball velocity 78 mph
News Article

Switch Pitcher

Hoagboon brings double punch to mound for Panthers

By JAMES A. ELLIS, The Leader-Herald, May 25, 2009

"I often start off a game left-handed and then switch about the fifth or sixth inning to my right," Hoagboon said. "When I do, I go out on the mound and start warming up with the opposite hand and I can hear it from the opposite dug out. They will yell out that there's a new pitcher on the mound. then they'll go, 'Oh, never mind, it is the same kid, just a different arm.' I just kind of laugh. I just always could throw like I was naturally left-handed since I was in Little League. I never felt awkward throwing, It just seemed natural."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Sock Drill

Pitching coach Fred Corral explains how to do pitching practice indoors using the sock drill. This drill is great for areas where the weather is cold or rainy -- like in the Pacific Northwest.

The sock drill was created during the 1999-2000 baseball season after one of Fred Corral's ace pitchers came back from break -- 3 weeks behind everyone else because he couldn't get his throwing in as a result of being snowed in.

Now there is no excuse to not get your work in.

All you need to get started is a baseball, a long sock, a watch or tape.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Preventing injuries in youth baseball pitchers

Over the years, physicians have noticed an increase in the number of elbow and shoulder injuries in youth baseball pitchers. 

Arm injuries are often attributed to overuse - playing on multiple baseball teams, throwing too many pitches, or not allowing enough rest between starts. Poor throwing mechanics can lead to arm strain and increase the chance of injury. Also, players who are out of shape, recently came back from a long vacation or have not followed a warmup and throwing routine could also be at risk. 

Young pitchers who throw year round and participate in baseball showcases have a higher rate of arm injuries that required surgery.

It is very important for coaches and parents to help prevent arm injuries in baseball players. The American Sports Medicine Institute developed recommendations to help prevent throwing arm injuries.

Please share this information with players, parents and coaches.

ASMI recommendations for preventing injuries in youth baseball pitchers: 

  1. Watch and respond to signs of fatigue (such as decreased ball velocity, decreased accuracy, upright trunk during pitching, dropped elbow during pitching, or increased time between pitches). If a youth pitcher complains of fatigue or looks fatigued, let him rest from pitching and other throwing.
  2. No overhead throwing of any kind for at least 2-3 months per year (4 months is preferred). No competitive baseball pitching for at least 4 months per year.
  3. Do not pitch more than 100 innings in games in any calendar year.
  4. Follow limits for pitch counts and days rest.  (Example limits are shown in the table below.)
  5. Avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons.
  6. Learn good throwing mechanics as soon as possible. The first steps should be to learn, in order: 1) basic throwing, 2) fastball pitching, 3) change-up pitching.
  7. Avoid using radar guns.
  8. A pitcher should not also be a catcher for his team. The pitcher-catcher combination results in many throws and may increase the risk of injury.
  9. If a pitcher complains of pain in his elbow or shoulder, discontinue pitching until evaluated by a sports medicine physician.
  10. Inspire youth pitchers to have fun playing baseball and other sports. Participation and enjoyment of various physical activities will increase the youth's athleticism and interest in sports.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ambidextrous Pitching Revolution

Venditte: Pitcher or Pioneer?
Staten Island's ambidextrous hurler could spark baseball revolution

There are two sides to every story. This saying holds extra meaning if the story in question involves ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte.
Several weeks ago, Venditte enjoyed a brief moment in the national spotlight thanks to the comical nature of his professional debut. 
Read the Story

Pat Venditte as a switch pitcher for Creighton University.

Young baseball players, inspired by Venditte, are turning to switch pitching...

report by Del Rodgers, May 24, 2011

Young pitcher slings it with both hands

Aiden McNasby, 8, is a lefty -- and righty -- in Roseville West Little League
by Kayla Nix / Roseville Press Tribune  5/25/11

Eight-year-old Aiden McNasby has quite a unique trait — he can pitch right-handed and left-handed.

As a toddler, Aiden would pick up things with both hands and eventually learned to throw with both.

“I was born throwing two pitches, pitching with both hands,” Aiden explained Saturday, dressed in his Pirates uniform for a Roseville West Little League game.

Even older players are turning to switch pitching...

Chuck Mellick aspires to be the first pitcher in history to pitch more than 90 miles an hour with both his right and left-hand fastball. A practitioner of Whole Brain Power, Mellick is drawing the attention of the sports world with his phenomenal pitching skills at 38 years of age (in 2008).

Read more about switch pitcher Chuck Mellick

[Note: Ryan Perez is a switch pitcher who can throw 90 mph with both arms. Read more ]


Ambidextrous Baseball Players in High School
Interesting stories and videos of high school baseball players who switch pitched in games.


Andrew Pullin

Andrew L Pullin
Born: 9/25/93 
Hometown: Centralia, Washington

High School: Centralia HS (Class of 2012)
Summer Team: NW Timberjacks
College: signed National Letter of Intent to play baseball at the University of Oregon 

MLB: drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2012 
in the fifth round, No. 188 pick, (signed for $203,900)
Minor League: Gulf Coast League Phillies, rookie league affiliate

Positions: OF, RHP, LHP

Height/Weight: 6' 0" / 190
Bats: Left
Throws: Right/Left  (right-hand dominant)
Velocity: 91 mph RHP
Gloves: six-finger ambidextrous glove, right-handed OF glove

Andrew Pullin, from Centralia, Washington, is a natural right-handed thrower who also has the ability to pitch left-handed. In high school, he made a name for himself as a switch pitcher, just like Drew Vettleson who was drafted by the Rays. At Centralia High School, Pullin was a starting outfielder and pitcher. In the summer, he played baseball for the NW Timberjacks 18U team. 

Pullin was recruited to play baseball for the University of Oregon (Ducks), but in 2012 he was drafted in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Phillies. Following his dream to play pro baseball, Andrew Pullin signed with the Phillies where he plays outfield for the Gulf Coast League Phillies. He hit .321 with 10 doubles and 2 homers in 2012.

Pullin was listed by Oregon as an outfielder, his primary position in high school, but the Phillies want to convert him to second base. He has also pitched, primarily as a right-hander but in brief appearances as a left-hander. 
“It’s been my dream to play professional baseball,” Pullin told a reporter of his decision to sign. “I got the opportunity, and I took it.” 
(source The Register-Guard)

Andrew Pullin switch pitching for the NW Timberjacks 18U team.

NW Timberjacks, Andrew Pullin pitching video


In the News