Less than a week after switch pitcher Pat Venditte made his MLB debut with the Oakland Athletics, the Cleveland Indians have drafted their own ambidextrous hurler, Ryan Perez, with their 12th round pick of the draft. Similar to Vendittie, Perez is capable of switching his throwing arm in the middle of a game or an at-bat and pitching extremely well from both sides.
Perez started to make headlines last year when it was apparent that he'd have a potential future in baseball after a great Junior campaign at Judson University. Playing as part of the Cape Cod League All-Star team, Ryan dazzled the announcers, fans and even his own teammates when he began to switch hands in the middle of at-bats. He is capable of throwing a 94 MPH fastball left-handed, and a 92 MPH fastball right-handed, both feats he performed at the All-Star game in his 18-pitch outing on his way to becoming the game's MVP.
Just like the Tribe's first round pick, Brady Aiken, Perez has had Tommy John surgery on his right arm in the past. The 2011 surgery does not seem to have an effect on his pitching, or his confidence in throwing from both sides of the plate, as this quote from an MLB.com piece profiling the pitcher last August shows:
"It's really, sort of, endless possibilities," said Perez, who at the time was driving across the Midwest on his way home from the Cape Cod League. "I have starting experience. I have closing. I can switch [from left-handed to right-handed, or vice versa] during innings. I can start and close my own game. Anything you can think of, I've done it, and I've had success with it. It just depends on what they're looking for."
The pick is especially interesting because just a few days ago Indians manager Terry Francona said that an ambidextrous pitcher would be a "dream scenario" when discussing Pat Venditte's debut:
"First of all, to try to be able to throw with both hands to me is hard to fathom. Then to be able to throw it farther, then to pitch, it’s unbelievable. I haven’t seen the kid enough to know how good he is. But it’s an unbelievable feat."
And he later added:
"That’s probably one of my dream scenarios. That’s pretty cool. I don’t know how in the world somebody could do that."
Perez was officially drafted as a left-handed pitcher, and it's important to keep in mind that there is no guarantee he'll ever make it to the majors, or even pitch very high in the minors. Either way, it's an exciting and unique piece that the Tribe were able to add late in the lightning rounds of the MLB draft. He'll be a fun player to watch if he sticks with the Indians organization and starts to climb the ladder with both throwing arms.