The Yankees prospect taking ambidexterity to a whole new level

August 4th, 2023

Switch-hitter? Sure. Switch-pitcher? Rare, but not unprecedented. But switch-fielder? Meet Anthony Seigler, who appeared Wednesday night for Double-A Somerset as a left-handed-throwing left fielder and Thursday night as a right-handed-throwing catcher.

Seigler’s ambidextrous nature first gained notoriety when the Yankees selected him 23rd overall in the 2018 Draft out of Cartersville (Ga.) HS. While scouts marveled at his ability to throw in the mid-80s and equally effectively with either arm, he was ultimately drafted as a catcher due to his all-around ability.

Since joining the pro game, Seigler has spent nearly every defensive play of his career behind the dish -- and throwing with his right hand. But he made his first career appearance in left field Wednesday for the Yankees’ Double-A affiliate donning his glove covering up his right hand. And as the axiom goes, the ball will find you.

“When I was younger, I always played outfield lefty, so there was no doubt that if I ever got the opportunity to do it in pro ball, it was definitely going to be lefty,” Seigler said.

Seigler first made a foray into the outfield -- right field, specifically -- in 2021 during a stint with High-A Hudson Valley. Two defensive outs were recorded, neither of which were by him. But when Guardians prospect Juan Brito lifted a fly ball to left in the bottom of the seventh Wednesday, it found Seigler’s glove -- and in the process, confused even the broadcaster, who mistakenly first referred to him as fellow left-handed-fielding teammate Elijah Dunham, and then eventually as, “somebody.”

With his first outfield putout pocketed and a 1.000 fielding percentage as a left fielder, Seigler returned to his catching duties Thursday. From the get-go, Double-A Akron put his right-handed-throwing abilities to the test, as after the leadoff batter drew a walk, he bolted for second during the next plate appearance. With an on-the-mark throw, Seigler recorded his ninth caught stealing of the year and 50th of his pro journey.

Which begets the question: Could Seigler be the uber-rare left-handed-throwing catcher?

The last catcher to serve as a southpaw during big league action was Benny Distefano, who did so for three games with the Pirates in 1989.

“I never really got the opportunity, nor thought about, catching lefty,” Seigler said. “I’ve had that in the back of my mind, and people have always brought it up to me or asked me if I ever did it, but I just feel a lot more comfortable righty.”

Major League Baseball’s history with players throwing with both arms has largely been focused upon those who did so while on the mound: Tony Mullane, Larry Corcoran, Ice Box Chamberlain, Greg A. Harris and Pat Venditte, among them. Jurrangelo Cijntje wowed evaluators at the 2022 MLB Draft Combine when he ripped off 94-96 mph heaters as a righty and 88-92 as a southpaw. The Brewers selected him in the 18th round of the 2022 Draft, but he chose to play collegiately at Mississippi State, where he has continued as an ambidextrous pitcher.

Pinpointing the act of Major or Minor Leaguers throwing with both arms from the field has been both murky and notoriously difficult. While it’s not a well-trodden path, it’s not a currently barren one. Whereas three's company, Mets 2018 third-round Draft selection Carlos Cortes plays the outfield left-handed and the infield right-handed, which although he has primarily focused on his outfield work since 2019, gives switch-throwing position players at least two to call their own across the Minors.

“It’s cool to think about playing the outfield, especially as a left-hander, but I feel like my main position is catcher,” Seigler said.

“But if the opportunity ever presents itself again, I will always be ready.”