Spring is upon us, but one very intriguing man is missing from camp, and his name is Pat Venditte. I suppose I'm not surprised, considering the Yankees left him unprotected during this winter's Rule 5 draft. This probably explains why he didn't get an invite to spring training, but that shouldn't mean he'll never reach the majors. What should we make of him going forward?
A basic scouting report on Venditte reveals his biggest weakness: below average stuff from both sides of the mound. From the right side, he works with a low 90s fastball and curveball. From the left, he works in the mid to upper 80s with his fastball, and compliments that with a slider. On the surface, he's nothing but a novelty act. Then, you look at his minor league numbers, and begin to wonder if maybe there is just something special about him (90 IP, 88/31 K/BB, 3.40 ERA) that hitters can't seem to figure out.
Venditte continued playing winter ball in Mexico following the season, and posted impressive numbers there as well (42.1 IP, 46/7 K/BB, 2.34 ERA). He gave up six home runs during the winter, which was a significant jump, compared to his seven during the minor league season in twice as many innings. Overall, this was another solid performance.
Looking a bit deeper, it's easy to become even more perplexed, especially when you look at his splits. Since 2009, Venditte has posted a .191/.238/.253 line against lefties, and a .240/.286/.367 line against righties. Is this the same guy who supposedly has better stuff from the right side? Not bad for someone with a "below average" arsenal.
Pat Venditte is going to be 27 years old this June. I hope he's challenged with a Triple-A assignment to start the year, but it wouldn't be startling to see him wind up back in Double-A as an afterthought. With the results he's posted thus far, he deserves a chance to prove himself at the highest level of the minors, so we can see if he really has what it takes to knock on the major league door.
He's a great story, but I'm tired of hearing that as a reason to root for Pat Venditte. I want to root for him as a productive member of the Yankees, who can contribute in the majors, and get hitters out in key situations. I'm not sure that will ever happen, but I'd like to see Venditte earn the opportunity to defy all odds and carve out a career as a major leaguer.
What do you think of Pat Venditte? What should the Yankees do with him going forward? Will he ever be more than just organizational depth?