Vettleson’s ambidextrous pitching dates back to when he was young. His parents played slow-pitch softball with their son in tow. His mom is lefthanded and his dad is righthanded. He would pick up either of their gloves and start throwing.
He’s primarily a righthander and can throw in the low 90s. He also throws a curveball and a changeup.
When he was playing Little League, he started pitching lefthanded, too. He’s more of a crafty-lefty type when he switches hands, relying more on changing speeds to get batters out. He’ll often switch to lefty in the middle of a game to save his right arm. It also messes with hitters timing.
"It’s something I really cherish because it’s a special thing," Vettleson said.
There’s only one pro to throw with both hands. Pat Venditte is in the New York Yankees organization. He heard about Vettleson and gave him a call to talk baseball. Venditte has a special glove that he can switch hands between batters. Drew has to take the glove he’s going to use for that inning, although some showcase events will allow him to bring both.
Vettleson can catch the ball about as well with both hands. He’s even gone out to play the outfield lefthanded. It amazes his dad, Jerry Vettleson, who tells him to strengthen his left arm in case of injury to the right, that he can catch and his throwing footwork are the same.
But as impressive as Vettleson’s ambidextrous act is, it has no bearing on why he’s one of the state’s top baseball prospects.
"As a player, my thing has been hitting, and I want people to know that: I’m a hitter," Vettleson said.
The baseball world knows. Without a doubt. Vettleson is a hitter.
Professional scouts know it so well, they are a regular occurrence at practices this spring.
"It’s going to be kind of a zoo," Central Kitsap coach Bill Baxter said. "I’ve never had a scout at practice before."
That fact tells you something. Central Kitsap has had some high-profile players in recent years. Caleb Brown, who is at Washington, constantly played before scouts. Nate Roberts has landed at Seattle U. Daniel Zylstra is playing at Oklahoma State.
Yet no scouts came to practice to watch them.
Scouts are so interested in Vettleson’s potential, they often came out to watch him play basketball — just to get a better sense of athleticism.
Baseball Northwest lists him as the top player in the state in his class, and has for several years. He was the Narrows League Bay Division MVP after hitting .382 with four home runs and leading the Cougars to the state tournament. He also threw two no-hitters. He was named first-team All-State by the Washington State Baseball Coaches Association.
He’s talked with every major league team about his signability in June’s draft and several have made home visits to gauge his character (no troubles there). He’s worked out for the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals. He’s hit for the Los Angeles Angels, Cleveland Indians and Florida Marlins.
Scouts have been telling him he will go in the top three rounds. Three high school players taken in the third round last year had seven-figure signing bonuses and a fourth just missed.
Even if he’s not playing minor-league baseball this summer, he still has a scholarship to Oregon State. He committed to the Beavers last spring. Oregon State said they would use him as a righthanded closer as well as an outfielder.
"It’s something I’m up in the air (about) right now," said Vettleson, who spent his summer playing at elite showcase tournaments. "I would be comfortable going pro. I want to go to college also."
"My wife Kim and I are taking it all in," Jerry Vettleson said. "We’re trying to keep him on a level field.
"...I know this is what he’s always wanted. And I’m not going to hold him from it."
Drew gives his father a big dose of credit for the spot he’s reached. Drew and Jerry began working on his swing when he was just 6 years old.
Jerry worked with his son to ensure his swing was fundamentally correct from the beginning. No need to go reinventing it a few years later. But still, scouts think his swing is unorthodox, but they say they don’t want to change it because it’s so effective.
Vettleson holds his hands back and away from the body, but he has really quick hands that generate a lot of power with a 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame.
"My dad always told me to swing hard," Drew said. "He said you’re not going up there to hit a single, you’re going up there to drive the ball."
"He doesn’t get cheated on any swing he takes," Jerry said.