Draft Tracker: Antonelli A Top Ten Sleeper?

In a draft class such as this one, organizations may make a first round selection that may never happen in a stronger class. Matt Antonelli is a first round talent in just about any draft class, but this year, he has a chance to be selected in the top ten. We recently sat down with the toolsy infielder to discuss his draft hopes.

Team are saids to love his athleticism and five-tool potential, but they also have to be quite fond of his overall performance this spring for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Entering this season, most scouts agreed that Antonelli was a first rounder, but after a strong showing in 2006, he has now pushed himself at least into the top ten discussion.

Entering the second weekend of May, Antonelli is batting an impressive .332 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI for Wake Forest. He also has a team leading 14 stolen bases while being caught only three times. Through all that, Matt has also done an excellent job at third base. So, how does he feel about his season so far?

"Right now, I feel like the season is going well," Antonelli said confidently. "I have had some ups and some downs, but I think overall I have been more consistent so far this year than my first two seasons. I just want to try to finish up the year strong and try to help us play as far into the post season as possible."

His statistics certainly are impressive moving towards the stretch run of the college season, but what separates Antonelli from many other college players who put up good numbers is his athleticism. Its is exactly that trait that has had teams, specifically the Giants, (10th overall) considering him early in the first round.

"I do think that having athleticism helps all aspects of my game out, both in my offense and on defense," the third baseman admitted. "I can play a lot of different positions in the infield and could play outfield because I can run a little bit, which always helps. Playing a lot of sports my whole life growing up has helped out my baseball skills in a lot of ways."

As for the early first rounder rumors, they are not unfamiliar to the Wake Forest star. On the other hand, he knows what responsibilities he has on his current team and what he has to do the rest of the way - not being distracted by the upcoming draft.

"So far I have heard a lot of different things that could happen on draft day, but it is still very early and we have almost another month left of baseball so a lot can change," he explained. "I really, at this point, do not have any expectations for where I will be drafted. I am just looking forward to starting my professional career with whichever team picks me in June."

With all the interest he has generated, the scouting world apparently has not overlooked Matt Antonelli. But, unlike some draft prospects, being heavily scouted is far from new for the Massachusetts native.

"Well, I've played in front of scouts for a long time," Antonelli told Scout.com. "I had to go through it a lot my senior year in high school and during my summer season during my senior year. When I got to college playing in the ACC, there are always a lot of scouts around at the games watching, so I really feel comfortable playing in front of them. Whether there are scouts at the game or not, I am going to play the way that I play the game. So nothing really changes for me."

The opinions of players and the opinions of scouts may often differ in terms of what they believe they are capable of doing. So, if Antonelli was scouting himself, what would he take note of?

"I think the first thing I'd say would be that I play the game hard and I play it the way it was meant to be played," Antonelli proudly proclaimed. "That is probably the most important thing. And, no matter how good or bad things are going for me during a particular game, I always try to play the game the right way."

As always, most people like to point towards a big league comparison for a draft prospect. In the eyes of Matt Antonelli, his comparison may not be all that clear cut. However, he does know one player that he'd be honored to be compared to.

"A lot of people ask me for a comparison and I never really know who to say," the Wake Forest star contemplated. "I am not sure who exactly I resemble in the big leagues, but I do know that I try to do a lot of the stuff that say a Derek Jeter does."

"He barely ever misses a game and always gives everything he has to help his team win," Antonelli added. "He can do all of the little things that you need a guy to do. He can move a runner, get the big base hit, or steal a bag for you. There really isn't anything he isn't able to do on the baseball field."

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