By Phil Stacey
---- — Matt Antonelli of Peabody, the former St. John’s Prep baseball star who was a first round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2006, announced yesterday on his blog that he has decided to retire from professional baseball.
The 28-year-old Antonelli, who played three games earlier this season for the Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers, said he received a lot of calls from independent league teams after being released, but none from any Major League Baseball affiliated clubs.
“After thinking about my situation and being presented with some other career opportunities, I decided to hang up the cleats and move on to the next phase in my life,” Antonelli blogged yesterday. “I know things happened very quickly, but I guess that’s the way things work in professional baseball.”
Antonelli went on to state that he’s been spending his time developing youth baseball and softball players from both Massachusetts and around the country with his Touch ‘Em All Baseball (www.touchemallball.com), designed to help players reach the next level.
A 6-foot-1, 195-pound infielder who went on to a standout career on the diamond at Wake Forest after being a football/hockey/baseball superstar at St. John’s Prep, Antonelli spent September 2008 in the big leagues with San Diego. He hit .193 for the Padres (11-for-57) with one homer and three RBI, starting 15 of the 18 games he played in. He scored six runs and had two doubles, and his first Major League hit came off of Hall of Famer Greg Maddux of the Atlanta Braves.
Drafted as a third baseman but eventually moved to second base, Antonelli enjoyed his best pro career in 2007. Playing in both High-A ball in Lake Elsinore (California League) and Double-A for San Antonio (Texas League), Antonelli hit a combined 21 HR and 78 RBI with 123 runs scored, 18 stolen bases and a .291 average.
Antonelli played 128 games at Triple-A Portland, Ore. in 2008 before his September call-up to San Diego. Injuries, however, derailed his ascent in 2009 (only 59 games played in Portland) and 2010, where he missed the entire season after having surgery to repair the hamate bone in his left hand. He was then non-tendered by the Padres in December 2010, making him a free agent.
Signed by the Washington Nationals, Antonelli spent the majority of the 2011 season in Triple-A Harrisburg, Penn. before signing with the Baltimore Orioles in November and being placed on the team’s 40-man roster. Hoping to make the big club out of spring training, he was instead sent to Triple-A Norfolk, Va., playing 29 games there before being designated for assignment in mid-May. He was picked up by the Yankees and played 15 games for their AAA squad in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Penn. He then signed with the Indians as a free agent this past Jan. 2.