Venters with the Atlanta Braves
|Tampa Bay Rays – No. 49|
March 20, 1985 |
|April 17, 2010, for the Atlanta Braves|
(through 2012 season)
|Earned run average||2.23|
|Career highlights and awards|
Jonathan William Venters (born March 20, 1985) is an American professional baseball relief pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Venters attended high school at Lake Brantley High School. He has played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Atlanta Braves.
Venters was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 30th round of the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft. He began his professional career with the Rookie League GCL Braves in 2004. During the 2004 season in the Rookie League, Venters started 8 games making 11 appearances total going 1-6 with a 5.74 ERA and 3 saves. In 2005, Venters was promoted to the Class-A Rome Braves. In 23 games (12 starts) with the Class-A team, Venters had a 8-6 record and a 3.93 ERA. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in late 2005, Venters missed the entire 2006 season. In 2007, Venters was promoted to the Class-A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He appeared in 17 games (12 starts) going 3-3 with a 3.39 ERA and 1 save in the Class-A Advanced system. Venters was demoted all the way down to the Rookie League level to begin the 2008 season where he posted a 4.70 ERA in 4 starts. He was promoted to Class-A Advanced, where he went 1-2 with a 4.08 ERA in 5 games (3 starts). He was then promoted to the Double-A Mississippi Braves, where he finished the season by going 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 3 games (2 starts). All together in the 2008 campaign, Venters posted a 3.41 ERA, 1 save, and a 2-2 record in 12 total games combined with the 3 affiliate levels. Venters started the 2009 season in Double-A posting a 4-4 record in 12 starts with a 2.76 ERA. He was promoted to the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves, where he finished 4-7 with a 5.62 ERA in 17 starts. Combined with both Minor League levels in 2009, Venters went 8-11 in 29 total starts with a 4.42 combined ERA.
The Braves added Venters to their 40-man roster with an invitation to spring training. After spring training, Venters started the 2010 season in Triple-A. After 2 games (1 start), Venters went 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA until being called up to the Majors on April 17, 2010.
On July 17, 2010, in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Venters was deemed to have intentionally thrown at Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder. He was ejected from the game along with Braves manager Bobby Cox and later suspended 4 games, a decision which Venters later appealed. Venters' suspension was subsequently overturned. He finished the season with a 1.95 ERA, in an NL 6th-best 79 games pitched.
Venters became a key part of Braves bullpen during the 2011 season serving primarily as the set up man for Craig Kimbrel. Along with Kimbrel and Eric O'Flaherty, the three pitchers have become known as O'Ventbrel for their dominance over the last three innings of a ballgame.
Venters was placed on the disabled list on July 5, 2012 due to a sore left elbow. He returned to the bullpen on July 22, 2012 where he pitched two scoreless innings versus the Washington Nationals. Venters finished the 2012 season with a 5-4 record and a 3.32 ERA.
Venters opened the 2013 season on the disabled list with left elbow discomfort. Trying to avoid surgery, he was injected with platelet-rich plasma, but he still was not expected to return until at least late May. However, the procedure was unsuccessful and on May 16, 2013, Venters underwent Tommy John surgery for the second time of his career. This naturally eliminated the remainder of his 2013 season. Venters was placed on the 60-day disabled list on July 4, 2013 to free up a spot on the Braves' 40-man roster as Joey Terdoslavich was promoted from AAA Gwinnett to replace Jordan Schafer on the active roster.
After the season, Venters signed a one-year deal with the Braves for the 2014 season, thereby avoiding arbitration. Venters began the 2014 season on the 60-day disabled list while recovering from the surgery, enduring many setbacks in the process. On August 28, 2014, Venters learned he had torn his ulnar collateral ligament again and would need a third Tommy John surgery to continue his baseball career. The third procedure was performed in September 2014, and prevented Venters from pitching in 2015.
On November 19, 2014, the Braves designated Venters for assignment  and he was subsequently released two days later.
Tampa Bay Rays
On March 11, 2015, he signed a two-year minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. He did not make an appearance in 2015 as he was still recovering from his third Tommy John. On July 2, 2016, Venters tore his ulnar collateral ligament once again, and would face Tommy John for the fourth time of his career, therefore putting him out of action for all of 2016. Venters signed a minor league deal on March 30, 2017. Again, he would begin the season on the 60-day disabled list, and did not made any appearances in the Majors all year around in 2017. He elected free agency on November 6, 2017. In December 2017, Venters rejoined the Rays, and was invited to spring training in 2018.
Venters is married to Viviana, with whom he has two children.
Venters primarily utilizes his sinker, which he throws with exceptional velocity (93–96 mph). He used that sinker to achieve a near-70% ground ball rate in 2010, leading all qualified MLB pitchers. His superb knuckle curveball is thrown at 85–88 mph. In 2011, it resulted in an extraordinary whiff rate of 71% (the highest for any pitch by any relief pitcher) and was put in play less than 6% of the time. He also has a four-seam fastball in the mid 90s, and a changeup in the upper 80s that he began throwing somewhat frequently in 2012 against right-handed hitters.
- Mark Bowman / MLB.com (April 17, 2010). "Venters back in Braves' bullpen". Atlanta.braves.mlb.com. Retrieved September 3, 2010.
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- Jonny Venters Statistics and History - Baseball-Reference.com
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- Sanchez falls short in NL Rookie of Year bid | MLB.com: News
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- Bowman, Mark (August 28, 2014). "Venters has torn UCL, faces third Tommy John surgery". MLB.com. Retrieved August 29, 2014.
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- Bowman, Mark (November 19, 2014). "Top prospect Peraza among Braves' roster additions". MLB.com. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
- Mooney, Roger (March 11, 2015). "Rays @ Twins: Rays sign Venters and lineups". Tampa Tribune. Retrieved March 11, 2015.
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