The proliferation of blogging platforms and social media sites has changed the way in which professional athletes can communicate with their fans, and Minor League Baseball has embraced this phenomenon.
It now appears that 2012 will mark the start of a new chapter in the realm of athlete-fan communication as jack-of-all-trades Kansas City Royals Minor Leaguer Anthony Seratelli plans to start a weekly video series. This endeavor would be under the umbrella of Seratelli's ArS*1 Productions company, allowing him to experiment with new equipment and techniques while establishing a direct line of contact with family, friends and fans.
"I want to say this is something I'll do once a week, but I don't know how feasible that will be," said Seratelli. "It'll be me throwing things out there, comedic stuff or just showcasing a special effect that I want to try."
Seratelli made the above remark in a conversation on Jan. 5, but within days his commitment to the concept seemed to have solidified. On Jan. 8, a video appeared on Seratelli's website in which he and former Royals farmhand Matt Morizio hyped the oncoming series of weekly videos, a clip in which heads literally explode.
"I learn a lot through YouTube," said Seratelli, who spent the 2011 campaign with the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals. "If I don't know how to light a certain scene, or I want to learn a new effect, I can just look it up and put my own little twist on it. ... And I've recently gotten some travel-sized [equipment], like a portable green screen and portable lights. Obviously I can't take a light fixture on the road, and it's hard to set up a full green screen, but now I've one that folds up and pops open. It's cool."
Seratelli's video production hobby will no doubt help pass the copious down time that is part of a professional baseball life, one that is largely lived on buses and in hotel rooms. But he is quick to point out that, for now, ArS1 Productions remains just a hobby.
"One of the reasons I started this is because I was going through a lot of the family videos that my Dad had, and I wanted to put them all somewhere so that others could access them," he said. "So there are some parts [of the site] open to the general public and others with restricted access.
"But who knows what will happen with baseball?" he continued. "This is something that I might end up falling back on and definitely something that I enjoy doing."
Such is the paradox of trying to make it as a professional athlete: One must remain fully committed to the goal while keeping in mind that it may not work out. At 28 years of age and having never played above Double-A, Seratelli doesn't exactly scream "prospect." But he was a Texas League All-Star in 2011 (hitting .282 with nine home runs and 35 stolen bases over 129 games), and after the season, the Royals sent him to the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League in order to hone his skills even further.
"That league is a great opportunity for anyone to get invited to, and I was happy to get that chance," said Seratelli, who went on to appear in 18 games for the AFL's Surprise Saguaros. "I took advantage of it as much as I could, and I hope I get a phone call soon giving me a big league invite [to Spring Training]. ... I was never a high pick, never a top prospect, but the Royals have always treated me like anyone else. I never felt like the bottom of the barrel. They've given me a lot of opportunity, and I hope to get some more."
Seratelli has helped himself stand out through his versatility, characterized by a willingness to play at any position at any time.
"It can be tough to get work around the entire field. It's not like you can play seven positions during batting practice. Day to day, you have to pick what you want to work on," he said. "At the plate, my biggest concern is getting on base. I'm not going to try to hit homers, but I'm going to take walks and be able to drop down the bunt. I think that's the biggest thing, to keep my walks up and the strikeouts down."
This approach led to an on-base percentage of .392 in 2011, helping to ensure that Seratelli did not go overlooked within a well-stocked Royals system.
"If I'm walking down the field with [Eric] Hosmer and [Mike] Moustakas, then there's never going to be anyone yelling 'Hey, Seratelli, can I get your autograph?'" he said. "But that's fine. I just hope that people see the hard work that I do."
And in 2012, that hard work will be seen not only on the playing field, but online as well.
"I look at [ArS1 Productions] as being completely separate from baseball, something that I do in another life, but somehow they both keep coming together," said Seratelli. "I'm going to just keep on throwing things out there."