Posts Tagged ‘Pat Venditte’

The Bus Leagues Baseball 2009 Pitcher of the Year

Click here to see the breakdown on the 2009 Bus Leagues Player of the Year.

Bus Leagues voters were given twelve pitchers to consider for Pitcher of the Year – eight starters and four relievers.  The presence of relievers on the ballot caused some early dissension within the ranks.  Some refused to consider them, others didn’t care.  In the end, we decided to leave things as they were because a) I had already done the work and wasn’t changing it up at that point and b) relievers are eligible for major league awards like the Cy Young, so why not include them here?

When the smoke cleared and all five voters had cast their ballots, only seven pitchers received votes (two of the relievers ended up missing the cut).  Those seven will get the full treatment seen in the Player of the Year post – pictures and everything.  Fancy stuff, coming from me.  The five who didn’t get no love…well, I’ll talk briefly about them below, but they don’t get pictures.  Consider it tough love.

(This seems like a good time to mention that all pictures in these two posts, with the exception of Koby Clemens and Craig Clark, were taken from MiLB.com player pages.  Clemens’ came from Google and Clark’s from the San Jose Giants web site.)

Brad Brach, Fort Wayne TinCaps: Of the four relievers on the original list, three had something special that made them worthy of inclusion and consideration.  All Brach had going for him was that he was really, really good.  The 6’6″, 210 lb. righty had 33 saves, a 1.27 ERA, and 82 strikeouts in 63.2 innings for the TinCaps.

Bradley Meyers, Potomac Nationals/Harrisburg Senators: Meyers made the list because his 11-3 record, 1.72 ERA, and 108 strikeouts were very similar to fellow finalists Brian Matusz and Madison Bumgarner and I didn’t want to be biased based on name recognition.  This worked not at all, as I suspect most of the voters looked at his name and said, “Who?” before voting for one or both of the other two.

Simon Castro, Fort Wayne TinCaps: Castro pitched a seven-inning no-hitter on August 18, which made his 10-6 record, 3.33 ERA, and 157 strikeouts just a little more impressive.  In fact, that no-no probably unfairly influenced my opinion of him.

Eric Surkamp, San Jose Giants: Surkamp finished 11-5 with a 3.30 ERA and 169 strikeouts.  No-hitter or not, I felt that if I included Castro, I had to include Surkamp.  In retrospect, both probably should have been left on the cutting room floor and we could’ve gone with ten finalists.

Miguel De Los Santos, DSL Rangers 2: Wanna know why De Los Santos made this list even though he only pitched 32 innings this season?  Because he had 70 strikeouts in those 32 innings.  Seventy.  If my calculations are correct, that works out to 19.69 strikeouts per nine innings.  It wasn’t enough to entice anyone to vote for him, but it certainly made him worthy of inclusion on our list.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the seven pitchers who received votes for Bus Leagues Pitcher of the Year.

travis woodTravis Wood, LHP
Carolina/Louisville (Cincinnati)
Southern/International League
Class AA/AAA
Total Points: 1 (t-6th)

One year after going 7-13 with a 5.47 ERA in the Florida State and Southern Leagues, Wood beat up Double- and Triple-A to the tune of 13-5, 1.77 ERA, 135 strikeouts. His ERA at Carolina was a ridiculous 1.21 in 119 innings.

What The Voters Said
“Solid amount of K’s and his ERA is solid; however, if you look at his previous years he’s just not at the same level and will probably be in the minors for another year or two and probably won’t be anything spectacular in the show (watch him win two Cy Young awards now).” – Chris

craig clarkCraig Clark, LHP
San Jose Giants (San Francisco)
California League
Class A+
Total Points: 1 (t-6th)

Clark was 16-2 with a 2.86 ERA and 135 strikeouts for San Jose. Good numbers, right? Right – especially since, as Andrew pointed out, they came in the freakin’ California League, where only six qualifying pitchers had an ERA under 4.00.

What The Voters Said
Clark’s lone vote came from Andrew, who didn’t include a rationale for his choice beyond the one mentioned above. It must be noted, however, that he only voted for Clark because I mentioned that I thought Brian Matusz’s last name rhymed with “lattice” and Andrew didn’t like that. Irrational sense of whimsy, indeed.

atahualpa severinoAtahualpa Severino, LHP
Potomac/Harrisburg (Washington)
Carolina/Eastern League
Class A+/AA
Total Points: 5 (5th)

Severino almost didn’t make the cut. I removed him at one point before deciding that the awesome name, perfect 10-0 record and 15 saves, and connections to our friend Darren Heitner were too good to leave on the table.

What The Voters Said
“He’s got it going on, really. Great name, perfect W-L record, and the ability to throw effective relief when called upon. I’d like to see him in person. However, I’d feel a lot better if his jersey could somehow read Atahualpa instead of Severino. Quintessential Bus Leagues type of player.” – Eric A.

brian matuszBrian Matusz, LHP
Frederick/Bowie (Baltimore)
Carolina/Eastern League
Class A+/AA
Total Points: 6 (4th)

If Matusz had spent the last month of the season with Bowie instead of Baltimore, he might’ve walked away with this award in a landslide. In the minors, he was 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA; add in his numbers with the Orioles and he was 16-4, 2.68 ERA, 159 strikeouts in 157.2 innings.

What The Voters Said
“Definitely a strong season down in the minors, the stats speak for themselves. Unfortunately I think his stats would be even better if the Orioles didn’t call him up for some starts in the majors. Wow, thanks a lot Orioles…you’ve taken away my Pitcher of the Year.” – Chris

pat vendittePat Venditte, BHP
Charleston/Tampa (Yankees)
South Atlantic/Florida State League
Class A/A+
Total Points: 8 (t-2nd)

One of life’s great mysteries: why does Venditte’s profile page on MiLB.com list him only as a righthanded pitcher? The 24-year-old out of Creighton is professional baseball’s only ambidextrous pitcher, a fact that might make him my favorite Bus Leaguer (which is weird because he’s a future Yankee). And it’s not just a gimmick – the guy can pitch: 4-2, 1.87 ERA, 22 saves, 87 strikeouts in 67.1 innings.

What The Voters Said
“I chose Venditte first because of the grand possibility of being groomed as the future closer once Mariano Rivera decides it’s time to retire. True he doesn’t quite have a blazer for a closer, but being ambidextrous (and equally effective at both) should prove to be a no-brainer.” – Eric M.

madison bumgarnerMadison Bumgarner, LHP
San Jose/Connecticut (San Francisco)
California/Eastern League
Class A+/AA
Total Points: 8 (t-2nd)

Over the past two seasons, Bumgarner is 27-5 with a 1.65 ERA and 256 strikeouts. A lefthanded pitcher with a great won-lost record, low ERA, and lots of strikeouts? Shades of Sandy Koufax (I’ll take ridiculous hyperbole for $1000, Alex). Bumgarner’s strikeouts decreased sharply this season, but if he can overcome that hiccup, teams will soon fear the 1-2 punch of Lincecum-Bumgarner in San Francisco.

What The Voters Said
“The kid seemed unflappable, so it’s no surprise he got called up so early in his career. The low number of strikeouts concern me quite a bit, but he’s a winner in the Bus Leagues.” – Eric A.

daniel hudsonDaniel Hudson, RHP
Kannapolis/Winston-Salem/Birmingham/Charlotte (White Sox)
South Atlantic/Carolina/Southern/International League
Class A/A+/AA/AAA
Total Points: 16 (1st)

Lots of players had good seasons in 2009. None of them, however, did it under quite the same conditions as Hudson, who started the year with Chicago’s A-level team in Kannapolis and ended it with the major league club. In a span of about five months, he stopped at every organizational level except Rookie and Short Season, pitching impressively en route to an overall minor league record of 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA and 166 strikeouts in 147.1 innings. That’s why he ran away with this thing with three first place votes – because those numbers are very good, and to compile them while being pushed up the organizational ladder is amazing.

What The Voters Said
“Daniel Hudson is my pick. Yes, he pitched for four different teams. He has a 5 to 1 K to BB ratio, which is pretty good. His ability to move to all levels in the minors and even get a start with the White Sox is very impressive too. So there it is…. I’m voting for Daniel Hudson with his boring name and all to win Bus Leagues Pitcher of the Year.” – Chris

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Two Pitching Arms Are Better Than One

When I was a kid, the Red Sox had a pitcher named Greg Harris. Harris came to Boston in his mid-30s after being claimed off waivers and spent six seasons with the team, pitching mostly out of the bullpen. In 1992-93, he appeared in 150 games (148 in relief) for Sox teams that finished 73-89 and 80-82, respectively.

Harris’ claim to fame, aside from being a decent jack-of-all-trades, was his ability to pitch with both arms, a skill he put to use once at the major league level, in his second-to-last appearance.  From the Baseball-Reference.com Bullpen:

…Harris found himself pitching for the Expos in the last season of his career, and on September 28, 1995, against the Cincinnati Reds, he fullfilled his career-long ambition of pitching ambidexterously, respectively walking and retiring the two batters he faced as a southpaw, in between beginning and ending the inning, and with it the game, as a right-hander. It is conceivable that a progressive manager or organization might someday make use of a pitcher like Harris, as being a switch-pitcher would allow the pitcher to always have the platoon advantage and also render bullpen usage less wasteful.

On Thursday night, Greg Harris V2.0 made an appearance in Brooklyn.

Pat Venditte, an ambidextrous pitcher out of Creighton, debuted for the Staten Island Yankees in the ninth inning of a game against the Brooklyn Cyclones.  Charged with protecting a 7-2 lead, Venditte retired the first two batters he faced before allowing the third man to reach.  The seemingly inconsequential safety produced an interesting situation: the fourth batter, Ralph Henriquez, is a switch-hitter:

Henriquez had been swinging left-handed in the on-deck circle, so Venditte switched his glove to his right hand in order to face the 21-year-old backstop. Seeing this, Henriquez instead came to the plate batting from the right side. So, Venditte switched his glove back to his left hand. Henriquez then decided to bat lefty, and Venditte switched his glove yet again.

And on and on it went. This rather absurd (and highly amusing) game of chicken ultimately led to a prolonged conference between the umpires and coaching staffs of both teams. After much debate, Manriquez [sic] was made to bat right-handed against Venditte throwing right-handed. Manriquez [sic] then struck out on three pitches to end the game.

I don’t know what’s better: that neither Venditte nor Henriquez refused to back down or that the umpires clearly had no clue what to do in this situation.  (Also: Manriquez?)  Greg Harris never had to put up with this crap. 

It doesn’t matter how good or bad this kid is: he needs to pitch in the major leagues someday.  Yes, Pat Venditte currently has one professional appearance to his credit, and I am already willing to go on record as saying that I will be extremely disappointed if he does not reach The Show.  Just one game.  Just one inning.  Just one batter (as long as it’s a switch-hitter).  That’s all I’m asking.

(Tip o’ the cap to Ump Bump, the first place I saw the story, and Deadspin, for the video)

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