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SoxProspects News

July 11, 2007 at 5:10 PM

Q&A with Sea Dogs Broadcaster Mike Antonellis


Portland Sea Dogs broadcaster Mike Antonellis has agreed to do a series of Question and Answer segments with SoxProspects.com moderator Mike Broxterman. Here is the first installment:

MB: We’ve heard many dissenting views on Jed Lowrie’s defense, what position do you believe he projects at on the major league level?

MA: I don’t see why Jed couldn’t play shortstop at the Major League level. He has shown great development from that position this season. He is quicker to the bag and has shown great range going to both sides of short. That position can take a while to perfect, Derek Jeter made 55 errors one season in A-Ball and I’m sure that made a lot of people scratching their heads about his future. I feel Jed has the mental capability to handle that position and I only see him getting better.

MB: We’ve had many members watch Clay Buchholz in person, and they have all come back with dissenting scouting reports as to what his best pitch is. In your opinion, which of his pitches is strongest, and which needs the most work?

MA: I would say his curveball is probably the best I’ve ever seen. He froze so many hitters with the amazing depth and velocity on his curve ball. He throws that curve ball at any count and has that 12 to 6 break. Plus, he’s able to break on the inner part of the plate to righty’s. It was simply un-hittable. As for the pitch to work on – He really needs to have more consistency with his fastball. He made a start in Altoona in early May and had no command of his fastball and still work five and 2/3 scoreless innings. In Double-A he was able to get by with his three other pitchers but as he moves up that needs to be more consistent. Clay needs to trust his fastball more and once he does that, he’ll be even better, if that’s possible!

MB: Up to this point in his career, Jeff Natale has gotten by with his bat. How much has his defense improved this season?

MA: That’s been tough to really gauge since he’s been used as a DH for most of the season. I’ve been very impressed how he’s adapted to playing first base, a position that he has limited experience in. He’s been fairly good at second base but I think first base could be a position we see Jeff at in the future.

MB: We’ve been both disappointed and perplexed at Bryce Cox’s struggles this season. What is his biggest weakness right now? His calling card was a dominant slider. How good has it looked to you?

MA: Bryce is a great guy and it was tough to see him struggle so much when he was here. It seems like forever since he was with the team and I see he’s making strides in Single-A Greenville. I think a lack of experience hurt Bryce when he moved to this level. He struggled with command during his time with Portland so he was never able to get on track. I didn’t think he was ready for this level and just more experience and confidence will help him down the road.

MB: It seems pretty obvious that Bubba Bell will be in Portland very soon. Which outfielder do you think he supplants (Johnson, Corsaletti, or Keylor)? (Editor's note: Bubba Bell was promoted to Portland almost immediately after questions were exchanged with Mike Antonellis)

MA: Bubba Bell has been quite a story in the Red Sox Organization. The numbers he has put up have been phenomenal and he deserved a promotion to Portland. I don’t see Johnson or Corsaletti being replaced unless they were promoted and Cory Keylor brings loads of experience to the table. Right now, it might be a rotation basis but it’s hard to leave Bryan Pritz out of the conversation. At a few points this month, he’s been the top hitter on the team and he is one of the top outfielders in the Eastern League. He has a gun for arm and can play all three outfield positions. Early on, Arnie Beyeler has rotated his outfielders in and out but since Eric Crozier has been released, we might see all four getting a chance to play everyday.

MB: Who is the most exciting/best player you have seen this past month (friend or foe)?

MA: I think Connecticut’s Eugenio Velez will see the Major Leagues very soon…Keep this player in the back of your mind. He’s a lean, switch-hitting shortstop who supplies pretty good pop and can fly on the base paths. He has very quick hands and excellent hand-eye coordination, making him one of the best fastball hitters in the Eastern League. He hit over .500 against Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden. It was tough to get a fastball in the high 90’s past Velez. He reminds me of a leaner version of Hanley Ramirez. I see him as a big league All-Star someday, I think he’s that good.

Once again, thanks to Mike Antonellis for the session, and we are looking forward to doing it again.