Scouting Mets Prospect #29: Michael Antonini

After a stock-raising 2008 season, Michael Antonini endured a rockier road this past season. Starting in Double-A for the first time, and even spending a brief period in Triple-A, Antonini had to break things down and put parts of his game back together again. Despite some struggles, Antonini retains value and is still being looked upon as a left-handed option on the farm.

Vital Statistics
Name: Michael Antonini
DOB: August 6, 1985
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 200
Throws: Left
Bats: Right
Status: 18th Round (2007) – Georgia College and State

Coming off his impressive sophomore season in 2008, Michael Antonini looked to keep his positive momentum going. In 2008, the left-hander sprinted through three full-season levels, ultimately finishing with the year with a steady showing in Binghamton. That is where he returned to begin the 2009 season and got off to a fine start.

Antonini posted a 3-0 record and 4.35 ERA in four April starts. It was a start strong enough to get him a look at Triple-A Buffalo when a spot opened up. However, Antonini struggled in his brief stint with the Bisons as he surrendered ten earned runs on 16 hits in 7 1/3 innings. Nonetheless, both the good and the bad were the focus of B-Mets pitching coach Hector Berrios who broke things down for the southpaw.

"Hector is big on mechanics and the mental preparation and that's a big part of my game," said Antonini. "It's just as important to be mentally prepared as physically and I think he did a good job with me and the staff this year."

Antonini's inconsistencies continued when he returned to Double-A. Over the next three months, the left-hander posted just a 2-3 record in 14 outings (nine starts) with a 6.15 ERA that included a brief move to the bullpen. The move to the bullpen was an important respite for Antonini who felt he benefited from a recharge of his arm.

"That was from (the organization)," said Antonini. "They wanted to give me a little rest because there were a bunch of guys in the organization who had their innings piling up. I was coming off my first full season and I could have used a break at that time in the season."

"It allowed me to get my legs back under me with that week in the bullpen so I think it definitely allowed me to feel better in the last few weeks."

Keeping his release point consistent was the most pressing need for Antonini. After spending ten days in the bullpen, he felt the feel for his pitches returned and led to a positive end to the season.

"I'm happy with how things are coming together. As I said, I just want to be more consistent and I think once I get that consistency down, I'll be more successful at this level and higher up," Antonini closed.

"Here is a guy that, in his second full season, pitched in big league camp, was in Double-A and pitched in Triple-A," said Mets pitching coordinator Rick Waits. "I think we have a few guys like that, but the thing with Antonini is that he's got a real good fastball and changeup with command of both."

"He's coming along, but we don't need to rush him or any other guys at this level. He just needs innings and to keep getting experience."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2009

Buffalo

0-1

7.1

16

3

6

12.27

2009

Binghamton

7-5

115.0

137

34

86

5.32

2008

Binghamton

1-3

45.2

43

16

32

3.74

2008

St. Lucie

4-0

44.0

34

7

33

1.84

2008

Savannah

4-4

73.0

63

16

61

2.71

2007

Brooklyn

0-0

19.2

13

5

12

0.46

2007

Kingsport

1-1

17.0

16

2

18

3.71



Repertoire: Fastball, Changeup, Slider

Fastball: Antonini's fastball velocity has remained a steady 89-91 MPH after he experienced an increase in velocity between his first two seasons. His velocity is not enough to overpower hitters, but instead, his strong command on both sides of the plate make it reliable pitch to get ahead early in the count. He generates some natural tailing action, but he must keep it down in the zone to remain effective. He gets beat when he his fastball stays up in the zone. When that happens it is a sign that his delivery is opening up and his release point has dropped. He worked with Dan Warthen during spring training to implement a cutter. It showed some early signs, but he has not yet developed enough feel for the pitch to bust in on right-handers effectively.

Other Pitches: Antonini's top secondary pitch is his changeup. He throws it in the mid to high-70s and gets good fade with drop through the strike zone. The pitch has not improved much year over year, but it is effective enough and paced well enough to alter a hitter's timing off his fastball. Much like his fastball, he must keep his changeup down in the zone. When elevated, his changeup loses its movement and becomes a flat, slower version of his fastball. His low to mid-80s slider remains the biggest hurdle and will be the key ingredient to future success. It remained a consistent pitch for him this season, but when on, gets the necessary break. His release point, by staying on the top of the ball, is pivotal to its effectiveness.

Pitching: Antonini works at a quick pace and attacks the strike zone with all three of his pitches. He has an easy, repeatable delivery with a three-quarters release point. That release point often determines how effective he can be particularly with his slider. He has a smooth delivery from the stretch and continues to improve pitching from the stretch. He battles to keep the ball down unlike when he is from the full wind up. He is still working on a pick-off move but handles the running game better. He pitches to contact, but the continued shakiness with his slider caused a drop off in his strikeouts.

Projection: After a sharp season of growth in 2008, Antonini's projection as a starter has stalled. Without a formidable slider, Antonini loses his value as a starter. His ability to throw strikes and locate his fastball will allow him to hang on as a possible swingman or left-handed reliever at the highest level. The organization will continue to work with him as a starter while in the organization, yet if and when a big league promotion does arrive, it will be in a relief role.

ETA: 2011. Lacking of a reliable breaking pitch will push Antonini back one more season. He will likely return to Binghamton in 2010 with a good chance that he spends considerable time in Buffalo. However, he has not shown enough for the Mets to trust him out of the big league bullpen this upcoming season.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics
\r\nName: Michael Antonini
\r\nDOB: August 6, 1985
\r\nHeight: 6'2\"
\r\nWeight: 200
\r\nThrows: Left
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nStatus: 18th Round (2007) – Georgia College and State
\r\n
\r\nComing off his impressive sophomore season in 2008, Michael Antonini looked to keep his positive momentum going. In 2008, the left-hander sprinted through three full-season levels, ultimately finishing with the year with a steady showing in Binghamton. That is where he returned to begin the 2009 season and got off to a fine start.
\r\n
\r\nAntonini posted a 3-0 record and 4.35 ERA in four April starts. It was a start strong enough to get him a look at Triple-A Buffalo when a spot opened up. However, Antonini struggled in his brief stint with the Bisons as he surrendered ten earned runs on 16 hits in 7 1/3 innings. Nonetheless, both the good and the bad were the focus of B-Mets pitching coach Hector Berrios who broke things down for the southpaw.
\r\n
\r\n\"Hector is big on mechanics and the mental preparation and that's a big part of my game,\" said Antonini. \"It's just as important to be mentally prepared as physically and I think he did a good job with me and the staff this year.\"
\r\n
\r\nAntonini's inconsistencies continued when he returned to Double-A. Over the next three months, the left-hander posted just a 2-3 record in 14 outings (nine starts) with a 6.15 ERA that included a brief move to the bullpen. The move to the bullpen was an important respite for Antonini who felt he benefited from a recharge of his arm.
\r\n
\r\n\"That was from (the organization),\" said Antonini. \"They wanted to give me a little rest because there were a bunch of guys in the organization who had their innings piling up. I was coming off my first full season and I could have used a break at that time in the season.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"It allowed me to get my legs back under me with that week in the bullpen so I think it definitely allowed me to feel better in the last few weeks.\"
\r\n
\r\nKeeping his release point consistent was the most pressing need for Antonini. After spending ten days in the bullpen, he felt the feel for his pitches returned and led to a positive end to the season.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm happy with how things are coming together. As I said, I just want to be more consistent and I think once I get that consistency down, I'll be more successful at this level and higher up,\" Antonini closed.
\r\n
\r\n\"Here is a guy that, in his second full season, pitched in big league camp, was in Double-A and pitched in Triple-A,\" said Mets pitching coordinator Rick Waits. \"I think we have a few guys like that, but the thing with Antonini is that he's got a real good fastball and changeup with command of both.\"
\r\n
\r\n \"He's coming along, but we don't need to rush him or any other guys at this level. He just needs innings and to keep getting experience.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

\r\n Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n W-L

\r\n

\r\n IP

\r\n

\r\n Hits

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

K

\r\n

\r\n ERA

\r\n

\r\n 2009

\r\n

\r\n Buffalo

\r\n

\r\n 0-1

\r\n

\r\n 7.1

\r\n

\r\n 16

\r\n

\r\n 3

\r\n

\r\n 6

\r\n

\r\n 12.27

\r\n

\r\n 2009

\r\n

\r\n Binghamton

\r\n

\r\n 7-5

\r\n

\r\n 115.0

\r\n

\r\n 137

\r\n

\r\n 34

\r\n

\r\n 86

\r\n

\r\n 5.32

\r\n

\r\n 2008

\r\n

\r\n Binghamton

\r\n

\r\n 1-3

\r\n

\r\n 45.2

\r\n

\r\n 43

\r\n

\r\n 16

\r\n

\r\n 32

\r\n

\r\n 3.74

\r\n

\r\n 2008

\r\n

\r\n St. Lucie

\r\n

\r\n 4-0

\r\n

\r\n 44.0

\r\n

\r\n 34

\r\n

\r\n 7

\r\n

\r\n 33

\r\n

\r\n 1.84

\r\n

\r\n 2008

\r\n

\r\n Savannah

\r\n

\r\n 4-4

\r\n

\r\n 73.0

\r\n

\r\n 63

\r\n

\r\n 16

\r\n

\r\n 61

\r\n

\r\n 2.71

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n Brooklyn

\r\n

\r\n 0-0

\r\n

\r\n 19.2

\r\n

\r\n 13

\r\n

\r\n 5

\r\n

\r\n 12

\r\n

\r\n 0.46

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n Kingsport

\r\n

\r\n 1-1

\r\n

\r\n 17.0

\r\n

\r\n 16

\r\n

\r\n 2

\r\n

\r\n 18

\r\n

\r\n 3.71


\r\n
\r\nRepertoire: Fastball, Changeup, Slider
\r\n
\r\nFastball: Antonini's fastball velocity has remained a steady 89-91 MPH after he experienced an increase in velocity between his first two seasons. His velocity is not enough to overpower hitters, but instead, his strong command on both sides of the plate make it reliable pitch to get ahead early in the count. He generates some natural tailing action, but he must keep it down in the zone to remain effective. He gets beat when he his fastball stays up in the zone. When that happens it is a sign that his delivery is opening up and his release point has dropped. He worked with Dan Warthen during spring training to implement a cutter. It showed some early signs, but he has not yet developed enough feel for the pitch to bust in on right-handers effectively.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches: Antonini's top secondary pitch is his changeup. He throws it in the mid to high-70s and gets good fade with drop through the strike zone. The pitch has not improved much year over year, but it is effective enough and paced well enough to alter a hitter's timing off his fastball. Much like his fastball, he must keep his changeup down in the zone. When elevated, his changeup loses its movement and becomes a flat, slower version of his fastball. His low to mid-80s slider remains the biggest hurdle and will be the key ingredient to future success. It remained a consistent pitch for him this season, but when on, gets the necessary break. His release point, by staying on the top of the ball, is pivotal to its effectiveness.
\r\n
\r\nPitching: Antonini works at a quick pace and attacks the strike zone with all three of his pitches. He has an easy, repeatable delivery with a three-quarters release point. That release point often determines how effective he can be particularly with his slider. He has a smooth delivery from the stretch and continues to improve pitching from the stretch. He battles to keep the ball down unlike when he is from the full wind up. He is still working on a pick-off move but handles the running game better. He pitches to contact, but the continued shakiness with his slider caused a drop off in his strikeouts.
\r\n
\r\nProjection: After a sharp season of growth in 2008, Antonini's projection as a starter has stalled. Without a formidable slider, Antonini loses his value as a starter. His ability to throw strikes and locate his fastball will allow him to hang on as a possible swingman or left-handed reliever at the highest level. The organization will continue to work with him as a starter while in the organization, yet if and when a big league promotion does arrive, it will be in a relief role.
\r\n
\r\nETA: 2011. Lacking of a reliable breaking pitch will push Antonini back one more season. He will likely return to Binghamton in 2010 with a good chance that he spends considerable time in Buffalo. However, he has not shown enough for the Mets to trust him out of the big league bullpen this upcoming season.
\r\n
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