Antonelli's aggressiveness paying off

Matt Antonelli was an on-base machine in his first professional season. A year later, he added a more aggressive approach and it paid handsome returns. The San Diego Padres prospect is looking towards continuing the evolution of his game in year three.

You got experience in big league camp – what was it like up there and what did you take away from it?

Matt Antonelli: I just think it was good being around those guys who have been there for a long time. They are really willing to help you out with the little stuff – in the cage – guys are good and know you are a young guy who hasn't been around so they give you a lot of good pointers.

And then seeing how guys go about their business is really nice too. Get a little taste of it and next year when I come in I will feel a little better than coming in this year.

When you go into that situation, do you have questions in mind that you want to ask a particular player?

Matt Antonelli: No, I didn't really go up and ask anybody any questions. They were very good about if they saw something or thought there was an easier way to do it they would actually come and tell you, which is pretty cool. I don't know if people are like that in other places, but they were really willing here to give a lot of their knowledge away so it was good.

You come into this year playing second base after taking some balls in the outfield this off-season. What is the comfort level for you like heading into year two of second base?

Matt Antonelli: I feel pretty good. I think back to last year when I came into Spring Training and I did not feel good at second base. It felt awkward the first couple of months.

Now, I don't really remember playing third. I feel like I have been playing second for a long time, which is a good feeling. I feel comfortable and hopefully I will do well out there.

Now you took some balls in centerfield this off-season. Do you foresee yourself maybe going out there one day? Is it still a real possibility?

Matt Antonelli: I don't know. I went out the first day I got here and went to the outfield to take some fly balls because I thought that is what they wanted and they yelled at me and told me to get back in the infield. I have taken fly balls since I have been here. Whatever happens down the road – I don't know. If they want me to head out there, I will and we will see what happens.

Last year, you headed out to the Arizona Fall League. Things didn't go as well as you had hoped but what was the experience like?

Matt Antonelli: It was OK. It is a lot different. Playing everyday the whole season and then going out there and playing three times a week with no fans – it was really interesting.

I got to work on a few things. Fielding-wise, I felt like I could work on some things but hitting-wise it was tough to get in a groove because it almost feels like you are hitting BP everyday and the juices aren't flowing. It was good to see – those pitchers were good. Coming in this year and knowing that you faced the best that the minor leagues have to offer and knowing that those guys are going to be in the big leagues this year or might have been last year. It was good to see those kinds of pitchers.

Last year, the power numbers obviously went up, but you were also being more aggressive at the plate. Is there a tradeoff where you can be too aggressive and sacrifice everything and how do you balance it?

Matt Antonelli: I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what I think I can drive and what I can't. The only difference was the first year I let a lot of balls go that I could drive – I walked like 60 times or something ridiculous. I walked less last year compared to the amount of games and felt like I put good swings on 2-0 pitches and even 0-0 counts I got good pitches and would hit it where I would have never have done that in my short-season league.

I don't want to be too aggressive where I am striking out more and swinging at pitches I don't want but I think it is good for me to stay on the more aggressive side if I get a good pitch.

You were in a groove early in the year stealing bases but later in the year seemed to lose a little bit of that touch.

Matt Antonelli: It is weird. Once you get past the halfway point, your body starts hurting. I would try to run and it would feel like I was running in quicksand. I just wasn't able to run as fast. I got thrown out and kind of just said, ‘Screw it. I am not being successful.'

Early in the year I was going every chance I had and was successful. At the end, I really only stole if I thought we needed the bag and thought we have to get to second and then I would go. I wouldn't just get on first and think, ‘I am going to steal now since I think I can make it.' I narrowed it down to when the team really needed it.

Everyone has said you are the future leadoff hitter for the San Diego Padres. How does it make you feel hearing things like that?

Matt Antonelli: It feels good. Leadoff is where I am comfortable. I have always been a one/two guy and have had decent success, walked a lot, have gotten on base and that is important, especially to the Padres who are all about getting on base. I hope it happens. I am going to keep trying to get better and hopefully it ends up being like that in a year or whenever it happens.

What is one memory you take away from China?

Matt Antonelli: I think it was cool to see people who don't see a lot of baseball and how excited they were, even though they might not have known what was going on. They got excited. Every out they were yelling and cheering.

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