Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Prospect Countdown: #29 Michael Antonio
Acquired: Drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2010 Amateur Draft
From: New York, New York
When the Royals selected Michael Antonio in the third round of the 2010 draft, some viewed the selection as a bit of an overdraft. It was a time when Royals fans had grown accustomed to the over slot selection and high profile pick, but instead the Royals grabbed a guy that was considered by most to be the top hitting prospect in New York City.
Antonio was drafted as a shortstop, but it was his bat that really peaked the Royals interest. According to one source Antonio has the potential to hit around .300 with solid average power. At first glance, Antonio's line in 2011 would seem to take off some of that luster, but upon further review it's easy to see why the Royals are still in love with his bat.
Despite being just 19 years old in the Appy League Antonio posted some great power numbers, while coming in just above the league average batting average of .261 (a number that could have been much higher if not for his .253 BABIP). Particularly of note was Antonio's HR/FB percentage which came in at 15.4%, or 5.7% above the league average mark. To slug with such power in the Appy League as a teenager gives me optimism that the Royals 2010 third round selection could develop into a strong prospect.
But as with most teenage prospects there are concerns as well. At this point Antonio has already outgrown the shortstop position, meaning the Royals will likely shift him to third for 2012. This hurts his value a little, but if Antonio can hit like some scouts expect, his bat should still play at the hot corner.
What Antonio really needs to improve on is his plate discipline. In 225 plate appearances in the Appy League Antonio swung at over 28% of the pitches he saw outside the zone. This number was about 4% higher than the league average. However, after receiving 35 plate appearances in Idaho Falls, Antonio swung at 64% of pitches outside the strike zone.
Of course 35 plate appearances is an extremely small sample size when it comes to measuring such things, but as Antonio advanced he will need to continue to develop his approach. In Burlington, Antonio was well above average when it came to making contact with pitches outside the strike zone. Oddly enough, because of this skill Antonio will need to be more conscious in his pitch selection. Otherwise more advanced pitchers will be able to translate his aggression and contact ability into weak outs.
With Cheslor Cuthebert ahead of him, and Mike Moustakas solidifying the third base position in Kansas City there is no rush with Antonio. I expect him to open 2012 as Kane County's starting third baseman.
Picture Credit: Milb.com