Ambidextrous pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje dominates in first collegiate start
One of the most unique pitchers in the world made his first collegiate start on Wednesday.
Jurrangelo Cijntje, a true freshman at Mississippi State, threw four scoreless innings in MSU’s 14-3 win over Louisiana-Monroe. Cijntje was dominant, striking out seven and allowing just one hit in four scoreless innings.
But what made Cijntje’s outing so notable was the showcase of one of the rarest skill sets in the sport. Cijntje is ambidextrous and showed his ability to pitch with both his right and left arm.
Six of Cijntje’s seven strikeouts came as a right-handed pitcher, the other came as a lefty. It’s entirely matchup dependent. Cijntje throws righty against right-handed batters and lefty against left-handed batters.
And he tops 90 miles per hour on the radar gun from both sides. It’s remarkable.
.@HailStateBB's switch-pitching freshman @_LooCijntje 🤯
97 MPH from the right 🔥
92 MPH from the left 🔥 pic.twitter.com/g7XhndlsGJ
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) February 23, 2023
It was the second outing of the season for Cijntje, who threw one inning of relief and got the win for the Bulldogs last week against VMI.
In total, he’s pitched five innings and hasn’t allowed a run. Along the way, he has eight strikeouts, just one walk and has allowed three hits. That’s a strong way to start a college career.
Jurrangelo Cijntje. BHP. Ambidextrous.
4.0in 1H 1BB 7Ks
— 11Point7: The College Baseball Podcast 🎙 (@11point7) February 23, 2023
Cijntje is a natural lefty, but throws harder righty
Cijntje, a native of Curacao who played high school ball in Pembroke Pines, Florida, is listed at just 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds but he’s already on the radar of MLB scouts. The 19-year-old was drafted in the 18th round of last year’s MLB draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, but he opted to stick with his commitment to Mississippi State and enroll in classes.
According to an MLB.com story from last June’s MLB Draft Combine, Cijntje is actually a natural lefty who began throwing right-handed as a 6-year-old while mimicking his father, who is right-handed. His ability to throw right-handed allowed him to play shortstop and catcher when he was younger.
Cijntje began throwing right-handed as a 6-year-old because he wanted to emulate his father, Mechangelo, who played professionally in the Netherlands, and liked wearing his dad’s glove. Mechangelo hammered nails into baseballs and had Jurrangelo throw at a tire to try to get the ball to stick, a drill designed to improve his accuracy. He first gained notoriety for his switch-pitching when he played for Curacao at the 2016 Little League World Series.
“I’m natural from the left side, but I think I throw harder from the right side because I was [catching and playing shortstop] my whole life,” Cijntje said. “Two years ago, I moved to Miami and started throwing with my left hand and my coach thought I was a good both-hand pitcher, so that’s how I started working back on my left hand again.”
Cijntje throws with a greater velocity and uses a slider as a right-hander. When pitching left-handed, he incorporates a curveball into his arsenal.
Here’s a Baseball America scouting report from last summer:
He gets his fastball up to 96 and sits in the low 90s from the right side, and pitches in the upper 80s and touches the low 90s from the left side. Being able to throw 90 mph with both hands puts Cijntje in a massively small circle of players, and he also has a slider around 80 mph from the right side that gives him an average secondary. He throws a slower, mid-70s curveball from the left side. Unlike many ambidextrous pitchers, Cijntje has real touch and feel with both arms and could be a legitimate two-way pitcher at Mississippi State if he makes it to campus.
Could Cijntje be MLB's next switch-pitcher?
If Cijntje reaches the major leagues, he’ll be the first switch-pitcher to play in the big leagues since Pat Venditte. Venditte pitched for six teams between 2015 and 2020 and posted a career earned-run average of 4.73 in 72.1 innings pitched.
Venditte was such a phenomenon that there actually had to be a rule instituted mandating him to indicate which arm he intended to use before an at-bat. Additionally, he was not permitted to switch arms during an at-bat (unless there was a pinch-hitter or he sustained an injury).
Because Cijntje enrolled at MSU, he’s not eligible for the MLB draft again until 2025. Players who attend four-year colleges are eligible to be drafted after completing their junior year or once they turn 21 years old.
In the meantime, we’ll get to enjoy Cijntje playing against SEC competition for the next few years before he moves on to a bigger stage.