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More of the Minor League Ramble

Some quick looks at one possible prospect and four likely ringers:

Human Swiss Army Knife Pat Venditte can not only pitch with both arms, he can deploy a small spoon from the small of his back. (AP)

Pat Venditte, RHP/LHP, Double-A Trenton: Ahoy! We have a sighting of everyone’s favorite switch-pitcher outside of Florida! Venditte repeated High-A Tampa this season despite posting solid numbers in 21 games there in 2009. In 72 2/3 innings, the switchy struck out 85. Unfortunately, Minor League Splits does not have his splits based on his throwing hand. However, we can tell the 25-year-old was effective in getting both northpaws and southpaws out, though he was clearly more effective against lefties. Presumably pitching from the left side, he struck out over 12 batters per nine and allowed 1.38 walks per nine. Against righties, he has a 9.0 K/9 and 1.98 BB/9, giving him overall rates of 10.4 K/9 and 1.71 BB/9.

Though he is a fly-ball pitcher, the Creighton product does not get taken deep often, as he has only allowed two homers this season. Venditte’s raw stuff is not fantastic, but he gets the job done. He has different mechanics from each side; from the right side, he throws with a more over-the-top arm slot, while he’s a side-arming lefty. You can see this more clearly here. As a righty, Venditte throws a low-90s fastball and a curveball that rests in the 70s, while as a lefty, he has a more deceptive delivery that helps him slide by with a fastball in the 83-86 mph range, a tight slider, and a breaking ball that sometimes doesn’t exceed the high 60s.

Other players with more promising big-league futures have been given the opportunities to move up a level this year, but now it’s time to see what Venditte is made of. At 25, he’s old for the level, but given his track record of success in the lower minors, it would have been hard to justify pitching him in High-A again. Double-A is much tougher, and without elite stuff from either side of the plate, it’s going to be a true test of his mettle next year.

George Kontos, RHP, Triple-A Scranton: The Yankees’ fifth-round pick in the 2006 draft, Kontos looked like he would be an obvious choice to protect from the Rule 5 draft early in the 2009 season. However, he underwent Tommy John surgery in July and made his return to the rubber in mid-June with High-A Tampa. He had a 17-game affair with the Trenton bullpen before landing in Scranton, where he continued to work in relief and tried to build up his workload. To help make up for lost time, Kontos has been ticketed for the Arizona Fall League, where he will continue to strengthen his arm and regain a feel for his pitches. If the Yankees believe that he has made enough progress and can make an impact at the big-league level next year, he will be protected from the Rule 5 draft.

John Van Benschoten, RHP, Triple-A Scranton: Prior to being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round of the 2001 draft, Van Benschoten was a power hitter for Kent State. Injuries have felled his once promising career as a second starter, as he has had arthroscopic surgeries on both shoulders and various other maladies that have prevented him from realizing his potential. The Yankees signed the 6-foot-4 righty in the offseason to play innings muncher. He has fulfilled that role, and he hasn’t had time to get too comfortable anywhere, as Scranton was the fourth level he played at this year. Van Benschoten will be a free agent again this winter, and he’ll probably try to hook on with a team that will give him a shot at the major-league bullpen.

Ryan Flannery, RHP, High-A Tampa: Here’s a classic case of an organizational soldier. Selected in the 47th round by the Yankees in the 2008 draft, Flannery is a 24-year-old innings eater and worm beater. In Charleston, his nickname seemed to be "Daily," as he seemed to pitch every day for multiple innings. Getting the bump to the higher level and better paycheck is a perk for rubber-armed reliever, as he pitched 79 2/3 innings with a 2.26 ERA in relief in Charleston and will likely continue his role in Tampa next year.

Edwar Gonzalez, OF, Triple-A Scranton: Signed by the Yankees in 2002 as an international free agent, Gonzalez is another organizational soldier. At 27, the outfielder got his first call to Triple-A because the ailing big-league team called up two of Scranton’s outfielders. He was simply there for depth; the Yankees re-signed him as a free agent in February. Gonzalez doesn’t have the average, pop, or patience to play at the major-league level. He’ll be a free agent again at the end of the year.