An ambidextrous pitcher is turning some heads

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There’s a story over at ESPN Chicago today about Ryan Perez, a pitching prospect who happens to pitch both right-handed and left-handed. At least one scout is saying he’s the real deal:

“He can really pitch. He’s a crafty, crafty guy. It’s not like he’s just hitting 82. I’ve seen him in a tryout camp where he was 87-88 from the left and around 91-92 from the right. That’s legit velocity. “On his sheer ability of throwing strikes and commanding the strike zone, I definitely think teams will take a look at him. I think people will definitely have interest in him.”

The last guy we heard doing this is Yankees minor leaguer Pat Venditte. At 26 and repeating AA with less-than-stellar results,*Venditte is more novelty than prospect.  Perez’s future remains to be seen, of course. My sense, though, is that if any ambidextrous pitcher ever had real promise that someone, at some point, would have told him to pitch with the better arm rather than mess around with the double-barreled approach.

UPDATE: Oops, that was sloppy. Venditte only pitched two innings at AA last year, so it’s misleading to say he’s “repeating AA.”  He isn’t doing fabulously in AA so far this year, but my initial assessment of him was off. He’s a little old to be considered a prospect, I think, but he has had some success to date.

Evan Longoria: ‘I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base’

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.