Padres tab Antonelli with first-round pick
Wake Forest third baseman has shown plenty of promise
SAN DIEGO -- For Matt Antonelli, the Padres' 2006 first-round pick in the First-Year Player Draft, Tuesday was as bright as the sunshine in the city he hopes to call his new home someday soon."Going in, I was hoping to be drafted by San Diego," Antonelli said. "This is something I've been working towards my whole life. I couldn't be happier with the team I was chosen by. The Padres are a great organization on the rise." Looking to enhance their offense and athleticism, the Padres chose Antonelli, a third baseman from Wake Forest University, with the 17th overall pick in the first round. Antonelli, who batted .335 with 11 homers and 30 extra-base hits in 200 at-bats this season, has a compact swing, excellent plate discipline and is considered versatile enough to play a variety of positions, including second base and the outfield. Standing 6 feet and weighing 198 pounds, he's a right-handed hitter. With Vinny Castilla on the downslope of his career, an opening is imminent at third base. Antonelli is expected to compete with Chase Headley, a second-round pick last year out of Tennessee who is progressing nicely at Class A Lake Elsinore. "Hard-nosed, versatile," Antonelli said when asked to describe himself as a player. "I can play third base, second, the outfield, a lot of different positions. I can do a lot of different things -- hit-and-run, steal some bags. All-around, I can do things pretty well. "I played third mostly in college, but I've also played a lot of short, and second in summer leagues. I enjoy all three of them."
Growing up in Peabody, Mass., Antonelli was a Red Sox fan with a special interest in Nomar Garciaparra, now starring for the Padres' National League West rivals in Los Angeles."He played with a lot of energy and had a great work ethic," Antonelli said. "I tried to model my game after him." Antonelli, 21, has impressed scouts with his attitude and development at Wake Forest against quality Atlantic Coast Conference competition. He has improved each season after electing not to sign with the Dodgers as a 19th-round pick in 2004. "We are very excited to get one of the top college position players," said Grady Fuson, the team's vice-president of scouting and development. "Matt is a very athletic kid and he had a great career at Wake Forest." One of the most heralded high school athletes in New England history, Antonelli was the Massachusetts player of the year in football and hockey at Danver's (Mass.) St. John's Prep, and the runner-up in baseball. Little wonder the Padres loved his athleticism and aptitude.
|"Going in, I was hoping to be drafted by San Diego. This is something I've been working towards my whole life. I couldn't be happier with the team I was chosen by. The Padres are a great organization on the rise."|
|-- Matt Antonelli|
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.