Pat Venditte Joins ‘From Phenom To The Farm’: Episode 104


Image credit: Pat Venditte (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

The journey that led Pat Venditte to MLB history started with a really simple thought. 

“It was just an idea that came from my father who thought, ‘There are switch hitters, why can’t there be switch pitchers?’” said Venditte. 

Naturally righthanded, from a young age Venditte trained to also throw with his left arm. Throwing both ways became his natural way of doing things, but didn’t mean that getting both arms ready for the mound was easy. 

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“Everything you can think of is double the work,” said Venditte. “You’re playing catch twice a day, you’re throwing double bullpens, because if you’re not, you’re falling behind.”

While his aptitude as a lefthander lagged behind his natural arm side, Venditte turned in a solid enough career pitching both ways at Omaha Central High School to earn a walk-on spot at Creighton, where he was told simply if he proved he could continue to switch pitch, he was free to do so. 

After a middling freshman season, Venditte began to tinker with his left side. He quickly found that dropping to a sidearm slot, now making him a switch-pitching-sidearmer, gave him an ability to spin a nasty slider that he hadn’t had previously. 

He became a mainstay in the Bluejays bullpen as a sophomore, and as a junior strung together a 43 2/3 scoreless innings streak and a 1.85 ERA, taking him from oddity to prospect. 

“I was hearing from more scouts, you would see more people at the games with radar guns,” said Venditte.

He turned down the Yankees as a 45th rounder as a junior, then signed with the club after being taken in the 20th round as a senior. Venditte took his switch pitching to pro ball, and while neither arm on its own was big league material, with continued adjustments he was able to add enough intricacies to keep hitters off balance during his minor league tenure.  

“I started to incorporate changing the arm angle from both sides,” said Venditte. “And then the biggest thing was the timing in the delivery, where I would add in quick pitches, change the hold patterns, double leg lifts.”

Venditte played out his initial contract with the Yankees, making it as far as Triple-A but never cracking the big club, before signing with the A’s in the 2014 offseason as a minor league free agent. A 1.36 ERA at Triple-A Nashville and having elite success with both arms earned him his first big-league callup, with his debut at Fenway Park cementing him as the first switch pitcher of the 21st century and first full-time switch pitcher since the 1890s. 

Following his 2015 stint in Oakland,  Venditte bounced around baseball, appearing in the big leagues with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Dodgers and Giants. 

Venditte got his last big league opportunity with the Marlins, a cup of coffee during the shortened 2020 season, where he sent himself off with good tidings, but also a sign that he might be ready to wrap things up. 

“I pitched well in the opportunities that I had—I think I struck out Freddie Freeman with a 79-mph fastball,” said Venditte. “I’m like, there’s only so long this can last.”

Venditte retired following the 2020 season, hanging up his custom six-fingered glove with 61 big league games under his belt and a unique place in MLB history to his name. 

On the latest episode of ‘From Phenom to the Farm,’ former big league switch pitcher Pat Venditte walks us through his journey in baseball.

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