Anthony Seigler thought every kid did it. He'd been doing it ever since he could remember, almost as soon as he was walking. It was around age 7 or so that he discovered that what he could do with a baseball was not particularly common, finding out like some kids
Anthony Seigler thought every kid did it. He'd been doing it ever since he could remember, almost as soon as he was walking. It was around age 7 or so that he discovered that what he could do with a baseball was not particularly common, finding out like some kids learn the tooth fairy isn't real.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
"I was playing with a travel ball team," said Seigler, who is ranked ranked No. 47 on MLB Pipeline's Top 200 Draft Prospects list. "This kid's arm was hurting, his right arm. I told him, 'Just throw with your left arm,' thinking it was normal. He looked at me like I was stupid. I thought it was normal because I was doing it. It's pretty unique."
Seigler, a high school star in Georgia, found out that his skills as a switch-pitcher were unusual back then, but he's actually not alone in this year's Draft class. University of South Carolina product Carlos Cortes doesn't pitch anymore, but he does throw right-handed when he plays second base and left-handed when he's in the outfield.
Oraj Anu, whose mother Oralee Anu was a sprinter on the 1980 and '84 Bahamian Olympic teams (Bahamas boycotted the '80 Moscow Olympics), plays baseball at Wallace Community College in Alabama and throws right-handed while in the outfield, but switches to lefty when he comes to the infield to play first. Home-schooled prior to attending Wallace, Anu was a 28th-round pick of the Red Sox last year.
Kris Armstrong, son of former big league right-hander Jack Armstrong, is a regular switch-pitcher, doing it in high levels of competition, including facing Seigler at last summer's Tournament of Stars at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
Armstrong told MLB.com's Cut4 last summer that he hopes to build his left-handed pitching to the point of switch-pitching at University of Florida and then in the professional ranks. Like Armstrong, Seigler is better with his right arm, but he is effective with his left. Unlike his ambidextrous counterpart, his days as a novelty seem to be over.
Of this trio of switch-throwers, Seigler is the one who is most likely to hear his name called on Day 1 of the Draft. In fact, he is one of six players who will be in attendance at MLB Network for Day 1 of the Draft on Monday. His name has come up in first-round conversations, but as a catcher, where he'll put his left arm away for good, though he will continue to switch-hit. Is he ready to put that part of his playing profile behind him?
"I am, and I'm not," said Seigler, who also throws left-handed when he plays the outfield on days off from catching. "It was fun while it lasted, being able to switch-pitch. I wish I could throw harder from the left side, see how far I can go."
Seigler's scouting report on himself has him up to 90, but usually around 86-88 mph from the left side, while he can touch 93 mph when pitching right-handed. From both sides, he'd use different arm angles to keep hitters off-balance.
"I don't mind being a catcher," Seigler said. "It's not the end of the world now that I can't switch-pitch anymore. If people want to see me throw lefty, I'll do it, but I'm not going to try to pitch lefty any more. If I go to the outfield, I'd probably go lefty to give my arm a break."
Should Seigler go on to college, he'd get to catch Armstrong at Florida. The Gators have built quite the reputation for deep pitching staffs, with first-rounders coming in each of the past three years (A.J. Puk in 2016, Alex Faedo in '17 and Brady Singer along with Jackson Kowar likely first-rounders this June). Having a pair of potential switch-pitchers one staff would be something different, though Seigler doesn't see that happening.
"I'd probably just catch at Florida," he said. "We haven't talked about it. I'm not worried about pitching anymore, but if they ask me to, I will."
If all goes like it seems it might on June 4, Seigler won't have to worry about what Coach Kevin O'Sullivan will want or not want him to do. And he knows that in the pro game, he's getting drafted for his skills at and behind the plate, not throwing to it. So fans looking for another Pat Venditte, the switch-pitcher who has spent time in the big leagues in 2015-16 and again this season, might have to look elsewhere. Of course, if there's one of those blowout situations where a position player is needed to soak up innings, don't be surprised if Seigler reminds his manager of his past.
"I would," Seigler joked. "I wouldn't mind telling them that. He'll probably look at me and start laughing. If they were to throw me out there, I'd try to strike everybody out."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.