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October 10, 2007 at 10:37 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 final installment for 2007.

MB: Who is the most exciting player you’ve seen this season on the Sea Dogs?

MA: In years past I’d probably pick a position player but Clay Buchholz (right-handed pitcher) was something special. His first start of the year he lasted only four innings and that was his worst start he made with Portland. He really stood out amongst all the pitchers in the Eastern League. It was a privilege seeing him pitch this season.

MB: Who is the most exciting player you’ve seen on an opposing team this season?

MA: Connecticut ’s Eugenio Velez – this guy didn’t even start the season in Double-A and finished with a league-high 49 stolen bases and hit .298 (10th in the league). Velez was a tough out for Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden. A switch-hitter with tons of speed and loads of potential, he could be a nice leadoff hitter for the Giants down the road.

MB: What was the most memorable moment/experience/game/play you had this season?

MA: In recent seasons this might be a hard question to answer but since the Sea Dogs played at Fenway Park in 2007 – that would be the moment. This was a great day not only for myself but everyone involved in the Sea Dogs’ Organization. The game was a thriller with Jay Johnson knocking in the game-winner with a walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth inning. Personally, to broadcast a game from the Fenway Park was the best thing I’ve even done in minor league baseball.

MB: Which Sea Dog showed the most improvement throughout the season?

MA: This is the best part of Double-A baseball, getting a chance to see players improve and develop throughout the season. I thought Iggy Suarez really turned his season around the last two months. When he arrived to Portland from Lancaster, he came in with big expectations but struggled a bit at the plate. He hit near .300 the final six weeks of the season and played the shortstop position at a very high level.

MB: Which player that no one talks about will have a nice major league career?

MA: I think Jeff Corsaletti will have a nice career in the big leagues; It might not be with Boston as the system is filled with outfield prospects. Corsaletti was very consistent right out of the gate to begin his tenure in Double-A. He started the season batting second but moved to the leadoff spot when Ellsbury was promoted to Triple-A. Corsaletti is a guy that wants to play everyday and worked very hard to improve his game.

MB: Is there one player that is considered the leader of the clubhouse?

MA: That’s a tough question to answer; I didn’t think this year’s team had anyone that stood out as a leader in the clubhouse. This is not a knock on this year’s team at all. In 2006, the Sea Dogs had more veterans that were with the team the entire season.

MB: What is the best pitch you have seen in Portland this season (if it is anything thrown by Clay Buchholz, please give the second best pitch also)?

MA: Clay Buchholz had the ability to win without having a consistent fastball. He has the best curve ball I’ve ever seen. The velocity and the depth of his curveball gives him a tremendous advantage, just ask Baltimore. His changeup has such late movement, making it very tough on opposing hitters. I wasn’t surprised at all he ended the season in Boston. A scout earlier in the season told me his was ready to be a fourth starter in the big leagues.

MB: Justin Masterson has had some stellar outings in Portland, and some that were underwhelming. What is the major difference in these starts?

MA: I think it’s just being more consistent with his sinker. In some of those starts where he struggled, he was able to get ground balls but they just found their way through. There were also some starts where teams just laid off his sinker. That happens when you advance from level to level. I think Justin will be fine.

MB: If you were a major league manager/GM, would you utilize Justin Masterson as a starter or a reliever?

MA: I’ve been told the best way to project a minor league pitcher in a future role is their velocity. For example, Clay Buchholz was able to keep his fastball in the low to mid 90’s his entire start. I think Masterson has that type of arm, making him a better starter. He should be able to work a lot of innings in the years to come.

MB: Most of the contributors of SoxProspects.com have either Masterson or Michael Bowden as the #3 prospect in the system. If you could have only one of those two, who would you chose (as a major league GM)?

MA: Michael Bowden would probably be the guy because of his age. At 20 years old, he was the youngest pitcher in the Eastern League in 2007. His mound composure didn’t look like a 20-year old. He worked hard in between starts and never let a bad outing get to him.

MB: Bubba Bell received rave reviews in Lancaster both as a player and a clubhouse leader. What is your assessment of the SoxProspects.com Offensive Player of the Year?

MA: I can remember the day Bubba arrived to the Sea Dogs, it happened when Portland was playing in New Britain . It was a really exciting day for the organization because there was a buzz about Bubba Bell all season with the eye popping numbers he put up in Lancaster. Despite playing in a hitter’s ballpark, you have to give him credit for the numbers he put up. I thought he did a great job with the Sea Dogs and was just starting to put together a strong finish but a quad injury cut his season short.

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