Antonelli official; Orioles heavily pursuing South Korean righty
Infielder Matt Antonelli passed his physical Monday and has been added to the Orioles’ 40-man roster, and the club is continuing to pursue other low-profile moves, including the potential signing of a South Korean reliever.
In an ongoing attempt to build roster depth, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said the Orioles are in negotiations with 33-year-old right-hander Chong Tae-Hyon, who closed out South Korea’s 2008 gold-medal victory over Cuba in the Summer Olympics.
A submariner – Duquette described his delivery as “unorthodox” – Chong has pitched with the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization since 2001. Although it was initially reported that the Orioles had agreed to a deal with Chong, Duquette said Monday evening that nothing was official.
“He is one of those we are working on. We are trying to see if we can get that resolved,” Duquette said. “He is a first-class pitcher. He was on the mound when Korea won the Olympic games. … He has pitched for years at the highest level of competition.”
Antonelli, a former first-rounder of the San Diego Padres who played at Triple-A with the Washington Nationals in 2011, will provide depth at second base and third base. He agreed to a major league deal and will compete for a big league spot in spring training.
“The signing of Antonelli is a good one for us. He has good on-base percentage, he is a good fit for us because he can play both second base and third base and I think he’ll be a favorite of the fans. He brings a lot to the party,” Duquette said. “He is starting to fulfill the vast potential that San Diego saw in him when they took him No. 1.”
The 17th overall pick in 2006 out of Wake Forest, Antonelli was once highly touted, but injuries and offensive troubles at Triple-A derailed his career. He hit just .193 in 57 at-bats with the Padres in 2008, and the club didn’t offer him a contract after the 2010 season. But he had a solid year at Triple-A Syracuse in 2011, hitting .297 with a .393 on-base percentage and eight homers in 300 at-bats.