Despite a rough 2012 season between the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankee organizations, former 1st Round pick (#17 overall, 2006) Matt Antonelli has signed a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. The 27 year old has spent the bulk of his professional career at either second or third base and could offer some intriguing depth for the Indians this season.
Antonelli got off to a strong start to his minor league career, working his way all the way up to Double-A in just his second professional season. He batted a combined .307/.404/.491 over 629 plate appearances that season, landing him among BA’s Top 100 Prospects (#50) heading into the 2008 season. Things didn’t quite go as planned from there, however, as Antonelli struggled at the plate for much of the 2008 season. He hit just .215/.335/.322 on the year at Triple-A, but still found himself among the September callups by the San Diego Padres. He’d appear in 21 games in the Majors, hitting .193/.292/.281 over 65 plate appearances.
Injury and offensive struggles persisted over the next two years, before Antonelli found himself on the free agent market. He’d sign a deal with the Washington Nationals prior to the 2011 season and would enjoy a nice bounce back campaign. He hit .298/.390/.457 on the year, appearing in 90 games (mostly at Triple-A).
Antonelli signed a minor league deal with the Orioles a year ago, only to find himself released just a few weeks into the season. He’d sign with the Yankees, play for a few more weeks, before ultimately his season would be cut short in disappointing fashion. Between the two organizations he’d appear in just 44 games, batting .201/.324/.286 over 183 plate appearances.
The Massachusetts native has been busy in the interim – getting married and hosting some infield training camps near his hometown over the past few months, as Antonelli has long been active in reaching out to his fans and the community throughout his career (more about him can be learned from an interview he agreed to do with me in January 2011) – but he’ll report to Cleveland’s minor league Spring Training in a few short weeks in the hopes of impressing enough to make it back to the Major Leagues.