Ryan Perez might look back someday and say having Tommy John surgery on his right arm was the best thing that could have happened to his left.
That's right, his left.
The 20-year-old from tiny Judson University in Illinois is one of baseball's rare ambidextrous pitchers. He's been all the rage in the prestigious Cape Cod League since he touched the low 90s on the radar gun — with both arms — in last week's All-Star game.
He came on in the third inning and struck out the first batter left-handed, the second right-handed and the third left-handed.
"Didn't see that coming," Perez said.
Neither did the announcers on the regional telecast, fans in the stands and even some of his teammates who were doing double-takes in the field as he flipped his custom-made, six-fingered glove from one hand to the other. The 18-pitch performance earned him the West team's MVP and left all to ask themselves, "Did he really just do that?"
As entertaining as Perez was that one inning, he's worked almost exclusively as a left-hander this summer and blossomed into a potential high-round 2015 draft pick.
No doubt, the Tommy John surgery he had in fall 2011 came with a silver lining. The operation left him unable to pitch with his right arm his senior year in high school. He tweaked the right arm again early in his freshman season at Judson and pitched almost all his innings as a lefty.
While his right arm was shut down almost entirely for two seasons, he worked his left-handed fastball up to 93 mph. He also developed a devastating breaking pitch to go with his changeup. This summer he's struck out 38 in 26 1-3 innings, almost all as a lefty, and has a 2.05 ERA for the Hyannis Harbor Hawks.
"I think his left arm is going to be the one that makes him a lot of money," Hyannis manager Chad Gassman said.
Aaron Fitt, who covers college baseball for Baseball America, said scouts are impressed with Perez's work from the right side as well.
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