Get to know switch-pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje

June 7th, 2024

is for real. A rare switch-pitcher -- able to reach 95 mph with both arms -- the Mississippi State sophomore is no circus act. Cijntje is legitimately able to retire batters with both his left and right arm, and Draft evaluators have certainly taken notice.

Here’s your guide to MLB Pipeline’s No. 31 Draft prospect -- one of the most unique baseball players in the world, let alone in the 2024 Draft class.

FAST FACTS
Position: RHP/LHP
Ht/Wt: 5-foot-11, 200 lbs.
B/T: Both/both
DOB: May 31, 2003
College: Mississippi State
High school: Champagnat Catholic (Hialeah, Fla.)
Born: The Hague, Netherlands
MLB Pipeline ranking: No. 31

He’s a natural lefty -- and his right arm might be even better

It isn’t a gimmick -- Cijntje really is a switch-pitcher, effective on the mound no matter which arm he’s using. Cijntje’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and tops out at 98 mph as a right-hander, and he also throws a slider and changeup in the 90 mph range as a righty. From the left side, Cijntje’s fastball sits in the low 90s, topping out at 95 mph, and he throws a sweep-heavy breaking ball in the low 80s.

"I'm feeling very comfortable with both sides right now," Cijntje told MLB.com’s Matt Monagan. "Even though I throw harder from the right side, my stuff from the left side is way better than last year. I believe in both of them."

While it might seem like Cijntje’s natural arm is his right, it’s actually his left. But growing up, Cijntje wanted to be a catcher like his father Mechangelo, a former pro player in the Netherlands. Lefty catchers are rare, though: Mechangelo told his son he’d likely have to be a pitcher, first baseman or outfielder. The younger Cijntje wouldn’t hear it, he recalled on Mississippi State’s “Dear Ol’ State” podcast.

“Nah, I will be better than you – especially catching,” he told his dad.

Cijntje set out to prove himself right, training his right arm to be as strong as his left by repeatedly throwing a baseball with a screw in it into a tire in his backyard. Clearly, the unusual drill worked.

“It didn't actually take long for me to just start throwing with my right arm,” Cijntje said. “It became almost natural."

It’s been so natural that Cijntje has begun pitching right-handed to more left-handed batters in 2024, with many scouts seeing his future as exclusively a righty. (Switch-pitchers typically throw with their left arm against lefty batters and with their right arm against right-handers to gain a platoon edge.) But make no mistake: Cijntje can get hitters out just fine with his left arm, too.

"As far as I can take it, I'll do it," Cijntje told Monagan. "My goal is to be a both-handed starting pitcher in MLB."

He’s got elite strikeout stuff

On the mound against Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament on May 23, Cijntje showed the potential that has earned him first-round Draft consideration.

The Mississippi State sophomore punched out 10 Commodores across six innings of work, running his fastball into the upper-90s. Cijntje recorded eight or more strikeouts in four of his final six starts of 2024, including a season-high 11 K’s in 5 1/3 innings against Vanderbilt in the regular season.

For the season, Cijntje finished with 113 strikeouts in just 90 2/3 innings, notching a 29.9% K rate. His high-octane fastball -- which received a grade of 60 on the 20-80 scale from MLB Pipeline -- has gotten plenty of swings and misses. Cijntje’s slider got a plus grade of 55, and his changeup received an average grade of 50.

He turned heads at the MLB Draft Combine

As prolific as Cijntje has been in college in terms of strikeouts, he was even better in high school. In two years at Champagnat Catholic, Cijntje struck out 166 batters in 81 innings of work – more than two hitters an inning. He posted a 2.32 ERA and 0.86 WHIP as a high schooler.

Cijntje’s production earned him a trip to the 2022 MLB Draft Combine at Petco Park, where the switch-pitcher went viral after a dominant performance. He faced six batters in a scrimmage and struck out five of them -- two as a left-hander and three as a righty. Cijntje flashed a mid-90s fastball as a righty and an 88-92 mph fastball as a lefty, and he’s since improved his velocity from both sides.

“It’s just a great opportunity to come here and be in an MLB stadium on the mound," Cijntje told MLB.com's Jim Callis. "I just wanted to show everyone what I can do and just have fun."

Cijntje’s pitching talent was evident, but in high school, he was also a talented middle infielder. When the Brewers drafted Cijntje in the 18th round of the 2022 Draft -- as a shortstop, not a pitcher -- the 19-year-old had a decision to make.

Cijntje considered turning pro, but ultimately, he turned Milwaukee down. “I was like, 'I have the chance to play at Mississippi State at one of the best colleges there is,’” Cijntje recalled. “‘The stadium is awesome. So is the atmosphere and the fans. So why not go (to MSU)?'”

The young player bet on himself -- and given where his Draft stock sits now, it seems he had a winning hand. (Or, in this case, two hands.)

He can join a tiny club of switch-pitchers

As you might expect, the history of switch-pitchers in MLB isn’t a long one. Reliever , who pitched for six different teams between 2015 and 2020, is the only AL/NL pitcher in the Modern Era (since 1900) to regularly use both arms.

On Sept. 28, 1995, in his second-to-last Major League appearance, Montreal Expos right-hander Greg Harris retired the Reds’ Reggie Sanders on one pitch. Harris then turned around and pitched from the left side, walking his first batter on four pitches before settling down to record an out. He became the first modern Major League pitcher to pitch with both arms during a game.

It remains to be seen if Cijntje will make the Majors or regularly deploy both arms if he gets there, but the young switch-pitcher is already in rare company.

Unlike Venditte, though, Cijntje isn’t “amphibious,” as an unfortunate (but hilarious) newspaper headline once stated.

Bonded by their uniqueness, Cijntje and Venditte are in contact, with Venditte reaching out to Cijntje on Instagram after learning another switch-pitcher was on the way. The veteran praises Cijntje after good performances and is trying to help the younger player develop a lasting routine.

"Yeah, we chat it up with each other," Cijntje said.

He has a glove as unique as he is

Having to switch gloves every time he switched arms would be a serious hassle for Cijntje. It’s why he has a custom glove as unique as he is: a six-finger outfit made by Wilson that suits ambidextrous pitchers like Cijntje perfectly.

Cijntje has four of the specially made gloves, which allow him to switch from righty to lefty or vice versa in a matter of seconds. Of them, one is all black, one is maroon (Mississippi State’s primary color) and black, and another is white, blue and yellow -- the colors of Cijntje’s home country, Curaçao.

“I just want to represent Curaçao in Mississippi, too,” Cijntje said.

His custom gloves have made a big difference: Back when he burst onto the scene in the 2016 Little League World Series, Cijntje had to watch from the mound as his coach trotted out from the dugout with a new glove when the young pitcher wanted to make a change.

Cijntje helped his Willemstad, Curaçao, team knock reigning champion Japan out of the tournament before its own run ended against a team from Sydney, Australia. His switch-pitching was on display at age 13, although he wasn’t practicing with his left arm much around that time. He became the first pitcher in 60 years to throw with both arms at the Little League World Series.

"I wasn't great from the left side, but I did get a lot of media attention," Cijntje recalled.

He’s also a switch-hitter

Perhaps it stands to reason that not only can Cijntje pitch with both arms -- he can also bat from both sides of the plate!

That’s right: Cijntje is a switch-hitter as well as a switch-pitcher, although he hasn’t gotten to show off his talents at the dish at Mississippi State. But it sure would be fun to see the young player switching sides of the plate and then switching arms on the mound -- especially when he’s a good enough athlete to make plays like this in the field.

Once a shortstop, always a shortstop.

Life on and off the field

Wondering exactly how Cijntje’s ambidexterity functions on the mound? Don’t worry -- Cijntje himself used to wonder, too.

“Even myself, I didn’t know how my body works,” the pitcher admitted.

One thing’s for sure: Cijntje can’t simply throw 100 pitches with his right arm one day and come back to toss 100 more as a lefty the next day. Pitching requires plenty of core and lower-body strength. While Cijntje has worked on that considerably, he’s not a machine. He’ll always have the advantage of being able to use both arms, but he needs rest just like any other hurler.

Cijntje told “Dear Ol’ State” he’s “ambidextrous only in baseball,” but he still uses each of his arms for different things. He’ll usually pick things up with his left arm, although when he needs to write something, it’s typically with the right -- to the disappointment of some fans.

“It’s funny because when people ask me for autographs, they will be like, ‘Can you sign with both hands?’” Cijntje recalled.

It’s unclear which hand Cijntje prefers when playing video games with friends back home, which he said is one of his favorite pursuits outside of baseball. They compete in FIFA, NBA 2K and -- perhaps fittingly -- MLB The Show.

Whether Cijntje gets to switch-pitch in the game just like he does in real life is a question for another day.