Crew drafts switch-pitching phenom Cijntje in 18th round

July 19th, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers’ vaunted pitching lab helped turn Corbin Burnes into a two-time All-Star, but this could be its coolest test yet.

A switch-pitcher.

The Brewers’ 18th-round Draft pick on Tuesday, Jurrangelo Cijntje, is a 19-year-old who was born in The Netherlands, raised in Curaçao and just graduated high school from Champagnat Catholic School in Hialeah, Fla. He is a left-handed pitcher. He is also a right-handed pitcher. And that made him one of the most fascinating players in this year’s Draft class.

The Brewers presumably face a tough sign so late in the Draft, since Cijntje (pronounced SAIN-ja) has a scholarship waiting at Mississippi State. But they took a shot on a pitcher who garnered significant notice at MLB’s recent Draft combine, where he pitched with a 94-96 mph fastball and a 79-80 mph breaking ball with 2,600 rpm from the right side, and an 88-92 mph heater and a 75-76 mph breaker with 2,400 rpm from the left, according to prospect guru Jim Callis.

In that story, Callis detailed Cijntje’s unique baseball tale. He is naturally left-handed but began throwing right-handed as early as 6 years old to mimic his father, Mechangelo, who played professionally in The Netherlands. Mechangelo hammered nails into baseballs and had Jurrangelo throw at a tire to try to get the ball to stick, a drill designed to improve his arm strength and accuracy. He first gained notoriety for his switch-pitching when he played for Curaçao at the 2016 Little League World Series.

Cijntje moved to Miami two years ago and saw his stock continue to rise as a pitcher and a shortstop. In a game at Petco Park during the Draft Combine in June, with pitchers working extended “innings,” Cijntje struck out five of the six hitters he faced -- two as a lefty and three as a righty.

Then he did a stint on MLB Network.

“Everybody was telling me, ‘You’re looking big right now,’” said Cijntje, who is 5-foot-11.

By the way, he is also a switch-hitter. Cijntje figures that his velocity is higher from the right side when pitching, because of all the time spent taking ground balls at shortstop.

“I want to do both,” Cijntje said. “I want to hit and pitch.”

The Brewers have a couple of weeks to convince him to do all of it in their Minor League system. In 17th-round pick Brady Neal (a catcher committed to LSU who was 74th on MLB Pipeline's list of the Top 250 Draft Prospects), 18th-rounder Cijntje and 19th-rounder Jaden Noot (a right-hander also committed to LSU who ranked 79th on MLB Pipeline's Draft Prospects list), the Brewers went for a couple of long shots late in the Draft.

The signing deadline for Draft picks is Aug. 1

"Obviously, those guys have excellent college commitments and strong commitments to those schools, so it will be difficult," said Brewers vice president of domestic scouting Tod Johnson. "It will be difficult but you never know. We'll have conversations and see what direction it goes. We only have 12 days this year, so it will go quicker for sure."

What is his view of what Cijntje brings to the table?

"First and foremost, he is an amazing athlete," Johnson said. "To be able to pitch like he does with both hands ... and I don't know if every team sees it this way, but we also think he's a really good infielder. He shows incredible body control and hands and actions in the infield and has a pretty good left-handed swing. His right-handed swing will probably take a little bit of work to get there.

"So, should we sign him, we'll explore a lot of different options with him potentially. The pitching thing is what has got him to be the most famous, but I wouldn't rule out him making some waves as a position player, whether he goes to college and tries to do it, or signs with us and tries to do it."