Tigers nab 2024 ambidextrous pitcher and switch-hitter

by David Folse II

Yes, you read the headline right.

Earlier this month, Jay Johnson and the LSU coaching staff picked up a commitment from one of the most unique baseball players in the country in Max Charles out of Liberty High School in Avondale, Arizona. 

The 6-3, 210-pound Charles is an ambidextrous pitcher, meaning he throws both left and right-handed. At the plate, Charles is also a switch-hitter. 

“Bats both, throws both,” Charles said. 

Charles went in-depth on how he started down the uniquely special baseball path he is on. 

“It actually goes back to my dad and me growing up as a young kid,” Charles said. “(My dad) wanted to try something new and something that very rarely happens (throwing from both sides of the plate and hitting from both sides of the plate). My dad Joe Charles basically started this for me from birth. For as long as I can remember I have thrown from both sides of the plate and hit from both sides of the plate.

“I just don’t know how other people don’t really think about doing this. Make their kids do both. It’s worked out for me well so far. To me, this is normal. The stories growing up and early in my career are memorable like when opposing coaches see me switch hands while on the mound for another batter and they don’t know what to do. One of the most memorable ones I remember is when I got older and you would see switch hitters the opposing hitters would switch batters boxes and then I’d switch hands and then they would do it again and I of course did it again.” (NOTE: The official rules of baseball dictate that Charles must finish a batter from the same side (throwing) that he started a batter, unless a pinch-hitter is brought in mid-count). 

When it comes to equipment, Charles has one pitching glove, something he and his father designed that they hold the patent on. 

“Instead of the traditional two-web, there is just one web in the middle and three fingers on each side,” Charles said when describing his glove. 

(Charles self-scouting report pitching) “Right now when I’m loose and throwing well, I’m 92 from the right side and 91 one from the left. From the left side I have a four and two-seam fastball, a cutter, change-up, curveball and a split-finger. From the right side I throw a four and two-seam fastball, sinker, cutter, slider and split-finger.

(Charles self-scouting report hitting) “Off the tee, I’m 106 on the right side and 105 from the left side. I wouldn’t really say one side is that significantly better than the other when I’m swinging the bat. I’m more of a contact hitter from the left-handed side of the plate though if I had to be honest.”

Further enhancing this story, when Charles is not pitching, he plays every position except catcher. 

“I play shortstop, but as a freshman I also played third base,” he said. “When I’m at third and shortstop I’ll play right-handed. I almost never play second, but if I do it’ll be right-handed and first base I’m always left-handed. In right field I throw left-handed because it helps protect the gap more and vice-versa for left field. In terms of center field, it’s more of whatever side doesn’t hurt that day.”

Outside of pitching, Charles said his collegiate position projection is shortstop/centerfield. 

While Charles’ exploits on the field are the most interesting thing, he did give some insight on why he wanted to continue his baseball career in Baton Rouge. 

“The biggest thing that stood out for me at LSU was the player development,” Charles said. “There is no better place for player development than Louisiana State University. There just is not. 

“And I’m not going to lie, but the next thing was food. The dorms that we are going to be in, I mean they have a grocery store right under it. I’m really big into cooking and the dorms have a grocery store right under them and they have a kitchen in it too. I mean you can grill too, talk about hog heaven.”

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