Detroit Tigers observations: College switch-pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje has players talking

Detroit Free Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — His name is Jurrangelo Cijntje.

He throws 97 mph as a right-handed pitcher, and he throws 92 mph as a left-hander. The 19-year-old, a natural lefty, has a reversible glove. He also has the attention of everyone in baseball.

“He’s insane,” Kerry Carpenter said.

The freshman switch-pitcher made his college debut Wednesday night for Mississippi State. He tossed four scoreless innings and allowed one hit and one walk with seven strikeouts against Louisiana-Monroe.

TUESDAY’S OBSERVATIONS: Tigers’ Christopher Ilitch reveals major upgrades, like new team plane, to players

WEDNESDAY’S OBSERVATIONS: Star shortstop Javier Báez takes grounder off finger, stays in practice

Some players in the Detroit Tigers‘ clubhouse, such as Carpenter, saw the highlights Thursday morning on SportsCenter. Cijntje struck out six batters as a righty and one batter as a lefty.

“We had a guy doing that with Cleveland one year,” Eric Haase said. “But he wasn’t that good. He was throwing like 90 (mph) from both sides.”

“Pat Venditte?” Andrew Knapp asked.

“No, not that guy,” Haase replied.

Venditte, another ambidextrous pitcher, competed in the big leagues for five years, from 2015-20, and played for six teams. He posted a 4.73 ERA across 72⅓ innings in his career at the highest level.

Knapp, a switch-hitting catcher, faced Venditte in a game.

“He had to pick which arm he wanted to throw with,” Knapp said, “and then I got to pick which side I wanted to hit from. He had to declare first, otherwise we would go back and forth. He would always make me hit righty.”

JEFF SEIDEL: How the eyes of a cop reveal so much about Tigers outfielder Riley Greene

“I’ve never faced anything like that before,” Ryan Kreidler said.

“I played with a guy when I was younger that threw from both sides,” Riley Greene said.

“Did he end up going to college?” Kreidler asked.

“I don’t know,” Greene said. “It was a long time ago.”

Cijntje, also a switch-hitter, grew up in Willemstad, Curaçao, and played in the 2016 Little League World Series before moving to Miami when he was 16 years old.

The Milwaukee Brewers selected him in the 18th round of the 2022 draft, but he decided not to sign and instead enrolled at Mississippi State. He isn’t eligible for the draft again until 2025.

MORE SEIDEL: Why Tigers fans will get more sleep after games this year — regardless of score

E-ROD TALKS: Eduardo Rodriguez focuses on the present, thinks Tigers have taken ’20 steps forward’

If Cijntje reaches the big leagues, he would provide an insane amount of value as a switch-pitcher, though probably not as much value as a two-way player like Shohei Ohtani, the first of his caliber since Babe Ruth.

Other players, such as Tigers pitcher Michael Lorenzen and Stanford’s Braden Montgomery, are capable of hitting and pitching, but Ohtani — the 2021 American League MVP — stands alone because he is elite at both.

“I would say one-in-a-million in the big leagues,” Greene said.

“Yeah, I would agree,” Kreidler said.

“It’s a different animal up here,” Greene said.

There was some discussion about Cijntje’s role and workload as he continues his collegiate career in search of a professional one. Right now, he is a mid-week starter for Mississippi State.

“I’m curious about how much they can throw him if he’s throwing with both arms,” Kreidler said. “It takes a toll on your body, no matter what.”

Maybe he would fit better in the bullpen.

“Left-on-left matchup to get out of an inning,” Greene said, “and then right-on-right matchup to get out of an inning the next day.”

Regardless, it’s impressive.

Tigers tee it up

The Tigers had a quick but efficient practice Thursday, so the players could get away for the team’s annual golf outing.

Manager A.J. Hinch was asked if he had any predictions.

“Zack Short is going to score the best,” Hinch said. “He’s the best golfer in camp … pains me to say it.”

PITCHING PROSPECT: Tigers right-hander Reese Olson looks to go from strikeout machine to MLB pitcher

ANOTHER PITCHER: Tigers’ Beau Brieske preparing like starter but willing to prove he’s ‘adaptable’

Hinch planned to partner with Scott Bream, Tigers vice president of player personnel.

“We have 33 or 34 more days of camp,” Hinch said. “An afternoon off and away from the field will be fun. It will be the earliest I’ve gotten out of here in a long time.”

Greene and Spencer Torkelson planned to team up. But Torkelson is the far more accomplished player. Greene, a left-handed batter, learned to play golf right-handed, only so he doesn’t mess up his baseball swing.

But Torkelson said he is trying to improve Greene’s putting.

“We got him a left-handed putter,” Torkelson said.

“Yeah, the right-handed putter wasn’t doing it,” Greene said. “Driving is OK, irons and wedges are super, super good, but I just can’t putt. I three-putt or four-putt every single time. I’ve been practicing at the house.”

Nick Maton impresses at third base

Hinch was hitting ground balls to Nick Maton on Thursday morning, and Maton made some fantastic plays.

“If you notice that when I hit him, I don’t hit normal balls,” Hinch said. “And that’s because they don’t usually hit perfect ground balls right at you in the game.”

MORE ABOUT HIM: Why Nick Maton — who crushes righties and ‘can hit any fastball’ — fits with Tigers

Maton, acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason, was making it look easy, throwing on the run and fielding the ball with fluidity. He could be the Tigers’ Opening Day third baseman.

“His tempo is very natural, and he was a natural shortstop,” Hinch said. “His baseball rhythm, baseball time, the way his feet and hands work, even at third, he will look like a middle infielder. He will play third base like a middle infielder, which makes him not afraid to throw on the run. It makes him not afraid to shuffle his feet. His hands are good. He’s very baseball-savvy with his timing.”

Skip in TigerTown

Former Tigers manager Jim Leyland — a special assistant for the organization — was holding court at TigerTown on Thursday, talking to, well, everybody: reporters, coaches, players and staff members.

“We love when the alumni come around, and more importantly, when they can sit down in the players’ environment and get to those these guys a little bit,” Hinch said. “We have Tram (Alan Trammell) in camp. Jim Leyland is in town. Willie Horton comes. It’s always important for the players to know the contribution to the past version of the Tigers. They dedicate their time, and they dedicate a lot of their energy, toward the Tigers. It’s awesome.”

First three starters

The Tigers have announced their first three starting pitchers for spring training games: right-hander Garrett Hill (Saturday vs. Phillies), left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (Sunday vs. Baltimore Orioles) and righty Beau Brieske (Monday at New York Yankees).

Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Contact Jeff Seidel at jseidel@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.

Articles You May Like

RILEY IS HIM. Two innings, two home runs 😮‍💨
AL Central Notes: Crochet, Clevinger, Wacha, Lange
Atlanta 2, Detroit 1: Early runs spell doom
Tigers, Eli Villalobos Agree To Minor League Deal
Tigers 0, Astros 4: Tigers shut out in the Lone Star state

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *