Saturday, July 21, 2012

Jesse Harris - Switch Pitcher


Jesse Harris (Class of 2013)
Hometown: Connersville, Indiana

High School: Connersville HS
Team: Connersville High School Spartans

Summer Team: St. Leon Legion (Indiana)


College: Ball State University

Positions: LHP/RHP, INF
Bats: Switch Hitter
Throws: Both, ambidextrous
   throws harder right-handed
Glove: Custom Mizuno glove ($400)


 Jesse Harris demonstrates his custom Mizuno glove (2007)

As a Junior, in 2012, Jesse Harris was selected to play in a high school baseball showcase. 

Five local players selected for baseball showcase
By JAMIE TAYLOR, newsexaminer.com
Friday, July 13, 2012

“I’m very excited about the showcase,” Harris said. “When you get nominated to go play in front of 40-plus college and pro scouts, it feels like you have done well to get there.

Harris will display his skills at the second and third base positions, as well as from the mound.

Although the skill levels of the players attending the showcase will be extremely high, Harris is sure to catch the eyes of many coaches and scouts.

Unlike most hardballers, Harris is not only a switch hitter at the plate, he can also throw, pitch and field with either arm, equally as well.

“I think that will give the scouts some interest about switching,” Harris said. “But hopefully they look at the way I play the infield and the way I switch hit.”


NPHS wrap - by Andrew Smith
April 27, 2012

Connersville 10, New Palestine 7: The Dragons suffered their second loss of the season after late-game defensive struggles. NP committed six errors in the final two innings, leading to eight unearned Connersville runs. That allowed the Spartans to rally from a 7-2 sixth-inning deficit and beat the Dragons.

Connersville reliever Jesse Harris came on in the fourth and limited the Dragons to one hit over the final four innings, allowing his team to rally. Harris threw both left and right-handed -- throwing left to left-handed hitters, righty to right-handed hitters.
Read More


Harris gets benefit from rare talent
By Aaron Klemme, News Examiner, Aug 30, 2010

With a day of taking batting practice with his father in the backyard, Connersville’s Jesse Harris stumbled on a talent that it is considered very rare when it comes to the game of baseball.

After fouling a pitch off, Harris, who was seven-years-old at the time, went to retrieve the baseball for another pitch.


Without hesitation, the natural-born right-handed pitcher picked the ball up with his left hand and threw a hard throw back to his dad.


“That is when it all started,” Harris said. “It was one of those times that you never really think about it and you just do it.”


It was something that his dad didn’t notice until his son made him aware.


Read more

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Jesse Harris on Facebook


Ambidextrous pitcher Ryan Perez Videos


Ambidextrous pitcher Ryan Perez, pitching for the Chicago White Sox Area Code team in Long Beach, California. Switch pitched from the right side and left side in the same inning. 
The video includes an interview with Perez who uses a six-finger ambidextrous glove.

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Switch Pitcher Ryan Perez - YouTube Videos

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Alex Urbanek - ambidextrous pitcher

Alex Urbanek

Hometown: Story City, Iowa

School: Roland-Story High School (Class of 2014)
Roland-Story High School Honor Roll

Height/Weight: 5'8" 145 (JR)
Bats: Right (former switch hitter)

Throws: Both
Positions: LHP/RHP, 1B (Left), C (Left)

Gloves: uses two different gloves for pitching

Pitches: Fastball, curveball and change-up

When he started:
Started switch pitching in games when he was 12 years old.


Naturally right-handed, Urbanek’s mom and dad taught him to throw left-handed when he was young. His family is big into baseball. (amestrib.com)

Alex Urbanek has been throwing with both hands since Little League. Initially, his parents trained him as a southpaw, although he is naturally right-handed. In Little League, he was a switch-hitter - but in high school, he bats right-handed. 
In addition to switch pitching, Urbanek plays first base and catcher - both left-handed.

Roland-Story sophomore can bring it from both sides
By Tommy Birch, The Des Moines Register

Roland-Story's Alex Urbanek has been pitching with both hands since Little League. Urbanek also plays first base, strictly as a left-hander, and has a left-handed catcher's mitt. Urbanek bats primarily from the right side.

STORY CITY, IA. — Alex Urbanek’s parents taught him to throw left-handed when he was a youngster. Several years later, he discovered that he could throw right-handed, too. Now the Roland-Story baseball player is a rare commodity: an ambidextrous pitcher. Read more

Interview with ambidextrous pitcher Alex Urbanek (video)
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Baseball: Urbanek is Roland-Story’s ambidextrous pitcher


STORY CITY — A chorus of screams blurted from Webster City’s dugout along the third-base line.
“New pitcher.”
A smile broke on Alex Urbanek’s face as he threw his final warm-up pitch before the top of the sixth inning. His teammates chuckled from the diamond and in the dugout along the first-base line.
The joke was on the Lynx.


Baseball: Urbanek leads rout of Gilbert

By Dan Wright, June 26, 2013

Like any hitter, Roland-Story first baseman Alex Urbanek would like to be able to look at his batting average and be able see the results from all the work he puts in at practice. 

He just missed a fourth hit in the seventh but lined out to the Tiger second baseman.
But getting three hits on four solid swings? Urbanek can’t complain.
Read more


Alex Urbanek Baseball Profile | Perfect Game USA

Jeff Schwarz - Pitcher for the Chicago White Sox

Ambidextrous Pitcher in High School

Name: Jeffrey William Schwarz
Born: May 20, 1964 in Fort Pierce, FL
High School: Fort Pierce Westwood High School (Fort Pierce, FL)
College: None
Height/Weight: 6' 5" / 190
Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right
Throws: Both / RHP in the MLB
Draft: 1982: Chicago Cub in the 24th Round (596th)
Pro Teams: White Sox (1993-94), Angels (1994), Yokohama BayStars (1995 Japan)

Where is he now?
2012 - Pitching Coach with the Gulf Coast Marlins (Rookie Level)

Jeff Schwarz in the News:

Chicago White Sox - 1993
Two hours before Sunday's game at Comiskey Park, I ran into Jeff Schwarz, the ambidextrous White Sox middle reliever. I asked how he was feeling, if he was ready to go, the usual mundane questions.
"I'm ready-either right- or left-handed," he replied.
(Schwarz Doubly Armed and Ready by Jerome Holtzman, Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1993)


Schwarz starting throwing left-handed when he was 13 years old
I asked if it was true that he is ambidextrous, that he can pitch with either hand.It's true. When he was 13, pitching in Little League, he hurt his right arm in a skateboard accident. Surgery was required. Unable to compete, he began throwing with his left hand.He collected all the balls in his house-croquet balls, tennis balls, a football, whiffle balls. He practiced in the back yard. Later, he began throwing against a neighbor's tennis wall 2-3 hours every day."I made a commitment I would learn how to play left-handed," Schwarz explained. "It wasn't easy in the beginning. But it finally started coming around."The next season, he was a left-handed-throwing right-fielder in the Babe Ruth League, an alternate on the all-star team.
 (Well-armed Sox Rookie Finally Arrives by Jerome Holtzman, Chicago Tribune, June 10, 1993) 

Pro Stats:

Jeff Schwarz Baseball Stats by Baseball Almanac
Jeff Schwarz Baseball Stats by The Baseball Cube

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Switch Pitcher Nicknames

A baseball player who can pitch with both arms is bound to have a nickname.

Pat Venditte [Ven-dit-tee] (Minor League Pitcher, NY Yankees)
El Pulpo = The Octopus
- Dexter
- Dr. Strange Glove (by Ed Tseng)

Venditte’s unique approach to pitching earned him this nickname from his college pitching coach: Dexter.


Ryan Perez (Judson University)
- Amb (short for ambidextrous)

Paul Richards (MLB player and coach)
“The Wizard of Waxahachie”


Ambidextrous Pitcher, is also know as
- Ambi Pitcher
- Switch Pitcher 
- Both Handed Pitcher (BHP)
- Double-Handed Pitcher
- Switch Handed Pitcher (SHP)
- LHP / RHP (on the roster)

Switch pitchers have also been called
- Ambi
- Amphibious (from Yogi Berra Quote)
- The Freak
- Double Trouble
- Deuce
- Duel Pitcher
- Twin Pitcher
- Double Pitcher
- The Bullpen
- Six Finger Pitcher
- Double Duty
- Two-Handed Pitcher
- Two-Way Pitcher
- Switcher
- Switcheroo
- Double Dexter

List of baseball nicknames

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Venditte Videos


Los Leones del Escogido contraron al lanzador ambidextro Pat Venditte



El lanzador estadounidense debut{o el pasado domingo en Santiago en la Final del torneo de béisbol otoño-invernal dominicano. Lanza a ambas manos.






Entrevista realizada a Pat Venditte, pitcher ambidiestro de Águilas de Mexicali.


En el cierre del octavo, pitcher ambidextro Patrick Venditte,en su debut en el béisbol dominicano hizo historia , lanzando a la derecha a Hector Luna, a la izquierda ante Brandon Moss y a la derecha contra Miguel Tejada.beisbol


CSTVs - Going Yard 
The Switch Pitcher
Creighton junior pitcher Pat Venditte can get hitters out with either arm.
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From Starting pitcher to closer

As a switch pitcher, sometimes you have to go with whatever it takes to help support your team.

This is especially the case for pitchers on select or tournament teams.  A few players will be the starters, other middle relief pitchers and one or two might be the closer.

What is the role of a switch pitcher in tournament play?

Starter 

If you consistently throw first pitch strikes, and put the ball in play, then you might grab a spot as a starter. Starters are expected to go three or more innings in youth leagues. High school starting pitchers often throw for five or more innings. The best pitchers can throw a complete game. It's important to rely on the fielders and put the ball in play. Many starting pitchers average 12 to 15 pitches per inning.

Middle Relief 

Can you handle pressure situations? Can you get batters to ground out to shortstop? Or hit an easy popup to center field? Then you might grab a spot as a relief pitcher.

Closer 

Can you throw strikes with runners on base? Can you change speeds? Can you challenge the big hitters with an inside fastball? Can you rely on your fielders to make the outs?

Many people think of the closer as throwing heat - the high cheese, and striking out the side. But that's not realistic in most youth teams. The hardest throwers often have the least control. Confidence is a key aspect of being a closer. Believe in your teammates, challenge the hitters, mix up the pitches, change speed, and you can be a closer.

What is the best pitch in baseball? 
Fastball, curveball, slider?
The best pitch in baseball is the first pitch strike (FPS)
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Monday, July 9, 2012

You can't steal first base

.. as the old saying goes - but you can steal every other base, just like Billy Hamilton.



The first step is to get on base.
After struggling to a .215 mark in his first pro stop — when the Reds turned the second-round draft pick into a switch-hitter — he's hitting .323 so far this year with a .413 on-base percentage. 
Hamilton, a shortstop in the Reds organization, has played all year for the Bakersfield Blaze of the California League. In 82 games, he has stolen 104 bases.
That's right - 104 stolen bases!

Read more about Billy Hamilton

Source: Larry Stone, The Seattle Times


Keeping Up with Billy Hamilton
by Mark Smith, May 7, 2013

Billy Hamilton is one of the most intriguing prospects in baseball. In a game where home runs are king, Hamilton’s speed still excites the imagination in a Pete ‘Wheelie’ Wheeler way. Drafted in the second round in 2009, Hamilton stole our hearts. Then he stole 103 bases in 2011; and then a minor league record 155 last season.
Read more

Billy Hamilton - Bio and Minor League Stats

Billy Hamilton - FanGraphs Baseball
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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Max Homick University of San Diego

Maxwell Joseph Muzio Homick (Max Homick)
Born June 10, 1992 in San Luis Obispo, CA
High School: Rancho Bernardo HS
College: University of San Diego
Positions: LHP/OF/1B
Bats/Throws:  L/L


College

As a freshman in 2012, Max Homick pitched for the University of San Diego -- posting a record of 1-0.  


High School

Homick, is an ambidextrous player who lettered four years at Rancho Bernardo High School. He was recruited to play for Arizona State, USC and UC Irvine.
In his senior year,  he had seven homeruns, 27 RBI, five stolen bases and a batting average of .300. His pitching record was 10-1, with a 0.66 era, 85 strikeouts, and a total of 84 innings pitched.


Max Homick Profile and Stats

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vintage Ambidextrous Baseball Gloves


While doing historical research on switch pitchers, I ran across a few photos of vintage ambidextrous baseball gloves on the Baseball Glove Collector Gallery


Check out the Rip Collins Ambidextrous Glove



All thumbs? -- No, just two, Rip Collins, former major league star tells Bob Purkey of the Pirates as he demonstrates a "two-fisted" glove he designed. The glove has two thumbs, and can be used by either a right-hander or a left-hander. But what has two thumbs?



1914 Reach/Spalding ambidextrous glove, model SC

In 1911, Samuel Cline patented an ambidextrous fielders' glove for A.J. Reach Co.




source: 

1914 Reach/Spalding ambidextrous glove





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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Switch Pitching for Fun

Henry Knight pitching for Franklin High School (Photo: Jerry Johnson)

This is the story behind ambidextrous pitcher Henry Knight from Seattle.


Practice makes perfect

Throwing with both arms takes a lot of regular practice to develop good mechanics and strong accurate throws. Excellent instruction and hard work is very important. Practicing the little things, like pickoff throws, can make a big difference in games.

Throwing Lefty and Righty at the Park

It was overcast and 50 degrees the other day, when Henry went down to the local baseball field to practice throwing with both arms -- like he often does on the weekend. There was a stocky redhead player on the infield practicing catching with a coach - both were in catcher's gear. 

We asked the coach if we could share the infield and he said "Sure, no problem. They need to get ready for high school tryouts." 

Henry started throwing left-handed to warmup, then took the mound to work on pickoff throws to first base. After about twenty pickoffs, he walked to the dugout to switch gloves -- so he could warmup right-handed. 

When the coach heard Henry zinging balls to first base, he looked around in amazement -- watching Henry throw right-handed. 

The coach said: 

"Wait a minute, I just saw him doing pickoffs lefty, and now he is throwing righty. How long has he been doing that?

"He started throwing lefty when he was nine years old." -  I responded.  "He has been switch hitting since he was five, so didn't take long for him to learn how to throw with both arms." 

Then the coach started talking to the freshman catcher about Pat Venditte and the rules about switch pitching in games. The coach spoke like a pro, and it turned out that he was a former catcher in the minor leagues.
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Here is a summary about how Henry got started as a switch pitcher in Little League -- up to his success on the mound in high school. 

Henry Knight

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Current Teams:
Columbia City Reds, Seattle
Franklin High School, Seattle (2015)

Positions: RHP/LHP, SS, 2B, CF, C
Bats: Switch hitter
Throws: Switch pitcher
Gloves: Akadema ambidextrous six-finger glove for switch pitching.
Right- and Left-handed infield gloves. Right-handed catchers mitt.

Reason for Switch Pitching: Just for fun

How he got started:

A natural righty, Henry Knight started throwing left-handed when he turned 9-years-old. He asked for a lefty baseball glove for his birthday and that's when it all started.

Making practice fun
Initially, he practiced throwing left-handed into a bucket at home, then he worked on knocking down water bottles lined up on a fence. The target practice made a game of learning to throw lefty and helped Henry to develop accurate throws.

Henry would arrive early before team practice and throw left-handed to warm up. Then he would switch gloves to throw right-handed with late arriving players. Within a month he was throwing more accurately than a natural lefty on the team.

Switch hitting made switch pitching easier to learn

He was already a good switch hitter, since 5-years-old, so throwing from both sides was not that difficult to learn. Henry started throwing left-handed twice a week in the off-season. This allowed him to rest his right arm for several months following tournament play.

During the regular season, he helps to throw batting practice from both sides. This experience gives him confidence facing some good right- and left-handed hitters. He got his first start as a lefty pitcher when he was 10-years-old by retiring the first three batters.

Henry was pitching and catching in Little League games since age 7, so he has more experience throwing from the right side. When he was 10-years-old, he used the 5 mph speed differential between arms to his advantage – making power hitters swing early and look silly. Now, he throws with about the same velocity both sides, but has more movement throwing left-handed.


Pitching in Games

Until recently, Henry used two separate gloves for pitching left- and right-handed. The first inning of a game he would use his left hand to pitch, then the following inning he would switch to throw right-handed. The league only allowed 10 year-old players to throw up to two innings per game (no pitch count rule).

If he struggled throwing left-handed, then his coach would call time and bring the other glove to the mound so Henry could pitch right-handed. Being his own reliever was a great way to get out of a jam and build confidence. Actually, his control was good - he rarely walked batters, but kids were hitting the pitches thrown over the heart of the plate.

During his second season of pitching left-handed, he worked on hitting the corners and started striking out more hitters. The inside change-up was very effective against right-handed batters. The typical pattern of outs in an inning: strikes out one batter, fields a grounder for an out, ground ball to the shortstop for an out.


Season Recaps

2009 Stats
As a starting pitcher, Henry Knight led his team in strike-outs (32 Ks in 33 innings) and recorded the fewest walks (5 BB) while alternating pitching left- and right-handed during 15 games in 2009.


2010 Season

As a 12-year-old, Henry started his third season of switch pitching. He took a pitching clinic during spring training and started working on a longer stride and faster delivery. He keeps the ball low in the zone and locates a 4-seam fastball, change-up and 2-seam fastball with movement. Now he is practicing with a new six-finger ambidextrous glove from Akadema (Prosoft Series: ABX-00: Ambidextrous,12" Trap Design).

Henry alternated as the starting catcher/shortstop, so he mainly pitched in relief with runners on base. He was able to strikeout the hitter or get them to ground out to get the team out of a jam.  He had excellent control on the mound - walking only two batters during the regular season. Henry relies on his fielders to get ground ball outs - resulting in a 4-pitch inning then a 5-pitch inning in tournament play.

As a switch hitter Henry batted .500 including 8 doubles, while hitting second in the order. Struck out only once in the regular season.


2011 Season

As a 13-year-old, Henry played in on a 13U Koufax team. He was the starting shortstop and served as a backup catcher. He also played a few innings in center field - giving other players to a chance to get experience at shortstop.

In preseason games, the team was testing out several pitchers, so Henry only got in one inning of pitching per game. He has the potential to be a solid relief pitcher - getting the team out of a jam with runners in scoring position.

He alternates days throwing left- and right-handed during pitching practice, since it's easier to focus on one side at a time. He mainly uses a four-seam fastball right-handed and a two-seamer left handed. Mixes in a nice change-up to keep hitters guessing. His left-handed throws have more movement than his right-handed throws. Also working on developing a good curve ball from both sides.


Henry continues to work on switch hitting.  During winter training, he got in a lot of quality swings at the UW Hitting School, and the new K Center in Seattle. His goal was to average over .400 and hit 10 doubles in 2011.

In the first month of the season, he was averaging .444 with two doubles and on base percentage around .600. In the final two months, he averaged .550 with five doubles, two triples and on base percentage around .700.  Henry struck out only once in the 22 game Koufax season.

In the final tournament, Henry hit .727, was on base 13 of 15 times, and scored 11 runs. The team took a second place finish after playing five games - all in one rainy day - with only 9 players.


2011 Fall Ball
Henry played fall baseball at PAC West LL near SeaTac Airport. Most of the players on the team were from the West Seattle Pony League All-Stars. Although the team did not practice at all, they managed to hit well and finished with a 13-1 record. Henry mainly focused on pitching left-handed, and got experience playing every position during the fall. Hitters started out with a 1-1 count to move the game along. Pitchers only threw one or two innings per game to avoid arm strain.



2012 Season

Franklin Quakers
As a 14-year-old, Henry made the varsity team at Franklin High School - landing a starting role at second base. He still works on switch hitting, although he usually bats left-handed in games. One week, he went 4 for 5 batting right-handed vs left-handed pitchers. He loves facing lefties, but there are only a few left-handers in the league. As a freshman, his on base percentage was over .400

The manager has called on Henry to do some relief pitching, right- or left-handed, depending on the situation. If he is playing infield, and the pitcher is struggling to get outs, then Henry takes the mound right-handed. If he starts a new inning and has time to warm-up, then he might throw left-handed.

The key to his pitching success is to throw a first pitch strike - which he does 70% of the time. On the mound, he works on changing speed and location to keep hitters off balance. 

Columbia City Reds (22-9)

Henry's summer team, the Columbia City Reds, competed in the Koufax State Tournament in July, then advanced to play in the Regional Tournament.

The Reds swept the Dow Memorial Day Tournament, in Redmond (home of Microsoft), where Henry  pitched five innings to close out the championship game - winning 3-2 in ten innings. He averaged nine pitches per inning, thanks to very solid defense by the Reds.


2013 Season

Franklin Quakers
As a 15-year-old, Henry was a starter on varsity at Franklin High School - serving as a pitcher, catcher, and infielder. As a switch pitcher, he tallied a 2-0 record, while striking out 22 batters in 22 innings. A natural righty, he posted a 0.78 ERA pitching left-handed.


Columbia City Reds (14-15)

The Columbia City Reds 15U played the in the Olympic Division of the Puget Sound Baseball League. 

The team was off to a good start in May, with the same core group from last year playing the key positions. Henry was the starting shortstop and switch pitcher for the Reds. He also caught three games.

In the first weekend of June, Henry threw two innings lefty on Saturday, and then threw two innings righty as the closer on Sunday. There were no walks issued and no earned runs. In the second game, he threw 13 strikes and 1 ball pitching righty -- averaging 7 pitches per inning

By July, Henry posted 21 strikeouts and only 5 walks in 39 innings of switch pitching. He chalked up a 2-1 record with a 1.26 ERA.

Knight throws 94 strikes in an 11-inning gem >>


2013 Fall Ball
Henry played fall baseball with the K Center team – comprised of players from the Baden Baseball Club. He worked on hitting with coach Kevin Miller (Bellevue College) and switch pitching with Kelton Jacobson (former minor league pitcher). His goal was to develop a nasty curveball – both left- and right-handed.


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Benefits of Switch Pitching

- Gives pitcher the advantage
- Safely pitch more innings
- Improve balance
- Gives the arm a rest
- It's fun
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Henry Knight, Switch Pitcher - Franklin High ...

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