Antonelli, Ramirez eye balancing act

Everyone is working on something. Major leaguers understand that you never stop learning. That curve separates the minor leaguers – and for one prospect it might be consistency and another it might be power. Yordany Ramirez and Matt Antonelli fall into those categories, respectively.

Ramirez has fought the injury bug over the last several years and hasn't performed well enough with the bat over his career – frustrated coaches because of his immense talent.

On July 23 last year, Ramirez was hitting just .204, on the verge of another no-hit season. But something happened and he hit .319 over his final 31 games to end the year with a .252 average.

You had success late in the year – what changed to have you feeling so comfortable at the plate?

Yordany Ramirez: I feel really good now because I just learned to stay back, keep focused, sure. Make quick swings and try to make eye contact the whole time.

What were you working on at early hitting camp?

Yordany Ramirez: In hitting camp, I was working toward my balance, to stay back, and to not try to do so much at the plate. Just try to make hard contact, that's it.

Do you feel like there is more pressure on you to perform since you have been in the system a few years?

Yordany Ramirez: Yeah, you can say that. You know, it's this in baseball: You try to do better and better day by day. If one day I can be consistent -- I know I can be a consistent player, so that's the way the pressure for me is. That's the thing I have to do.

You have always been a great fielder – what's your key to playing centerfield so well?

Yordany Ramirez: I always think I can catch the ball no matter how or where they hit it. I just want to catch it.

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The critics cry for Antonelli to hit more homers. He is a third base man! Lost in the shuffle was a solid season that saw him hit .286 while drawing 46 walks and whiffing 31 times in 55 games.

An athletic specimen, Antonelli may have notched just 12 doubles last year but is still growing into a mature young man at 21-years old. And he came into the season stronger – looking to become a more complete player.

There has been some concern over your power numbers in year one – is that something you think about a lot?

Matt Antonelli: No, not really. I never really was a big power guy, so I don't worry about it too much. In the off-season, one of my goals was to get stronger and try to tinker with my swing a little bit and maybe get some more power numbers in there.

Looking ahead to full season ball – did you change your off-season regimen to endure the rigors of 140 games?

Matt Antonelli: Yeah, I worked out pretty hard this off-season. I wanted to come in a little heavier than I played before because I know after 140 games I'm going to lose a lot of weight and stuff like that. So hopefully the extra training will help later in the year.

You spent time at second base during Instructs – what was your comfort level out there?

Matt Antonelli: I liked it. I liked it a lot. I don't know where I'm going to be this year, but if I gotta play second I'll be pretty happy. I thought I did okay over there and learned it pretty quickly, so we'll see what happens.

Some say your incredible batting eye makes you a potential top-flight leadoff man. Is that how you picture yourself?

Matt Antonelli: I've hit leadoff pretty much my whole life. I hit third a little bit in Eugene last year. Anywhere at the top of the order I like. Usually I have a high on-base percentage so now I'm just trying to put the slugging percentage and power numbers with that, hopefully, and be more of a complete player.


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