A little more on Matt Antonelli
The Orioles are on the verge of signing their first free agent for the 40-man roster.
His name is Matt Antonelli, a right-handed hitting 26-year-old second/third baseman who was the 17th overall pick in the 2006 draft out of Wake Forest University.
Not exactly Prince Fielder, but this is the kind of depth signing one can expect from the club’s new executive vice president Dan Duquette.
The deal, which will include a 40-man spot and an automatic invite to spring training, is pending a physical.
But if he’s healthy – and the Orioles have no reason to think he is not – he’ll compete for a big-league roster spot in spring training, giving the Orioles insurance at second base and Chris Davis some competition at third.
This guy seems to be an interesting flyer – in 2008 he was considered by several media gurus as one of the top 50 prospects in all of baseball and Baseball America had him ranked second in the Padres organization, which gave him a $1.575 million signing bonus.
But he struggled mightily at Triple-A, dealt with some injuries, didn’t produce in limited action in the majors (.193 average in 57 big-league at-bats) and by the end of 2010 he was non-tendered a contract. Last year he played primarily at Triple-A Syracuse, the Washington Nationals’ top affiliate.
He did pretty well there with a .297 average, .393 on-base percentage and .460 slugging while hitting eight homers and driving in 30 runs in 300 at-bats.
He takes walks, plays solid defense at two infield positions and is considered a strong make-up guy with plenty of toughness – as a high school senior he was the Massachusetts player of the year in football and hockey (and second in baseball).
He could very well be the Orioles’ starting second baseman next year if Brian Roberts can’t play and the club utilizes Robert Andino in a super-utility role. Or Antonelli could prove to be a Quad-A player at best and could spend most of his time at Norfolk or in another organization.
These are the kind of moves a team like the Orioles should make to improve depth. Of course, these aren’t the kind of moves that placate a disgruntled fan base, either.