Seratelli continues to show versatility

Blue Rocks infielder helps high school players hone their skills

A switch-hitter, Anthony Seratelli has played seven different positions in his baseball career. (Brad Glazier)

By Nick Cammarota / MLB.com | May 23, 2008 9:37 AM

WILMINGTON, Del. -- Not many people can claim to have bowled a perfect game in their lifetime, let alone two. It takes significantly more than the right combination of pizza grease and luck to find the pocket 12 times in a row.

Then again, only a select group of people can say they've been signed to a Minor League Baseball contract.

Anthony Seratelli, a versatile infielder for the Class A Advanced Wilmington Blue Rocks, can proudly assert both.

"I was 4-foot-11 going into high school [in New Jersey], so it was hard for me to play football or basketball," Seratelli said. "I shied away from them and got into baseball. As far as something to do in the winter, I bowled."

Old Bridge High School's bowling team watched Seratelli toss a "300" in his freshman and junior seasons, the first of which he remembers vividly.

"When you're doing it, everyone else kind of stops and watches you," he said. "I couldn't feel a thing in my body, I was so nervous. I was going through the motions. I let go of the ball, it ended up in the pocket, and I got a strike."

Seven years later, Seratelli seldom touches a ball that doesn't fit in the palm of his hand. He knew his future didn't project as well in a sport played indoors, or one that placed so much value on individual accomplishments.

The switch-hitting seven-position player -- everything except pitcher and catcher -- served a season in the independent Frontier League after graduating from Seton Hall in 2005, and was signed by the Kansas City Royals on his 24th birthday. He was the only one out of 88 players inked from that February's open tryout camp. Following a spectacular season in the Pioneer League (.327 batting average, .966 OPS, 52 runs, 29 stolen bases), he's currently working out of a slump in Wilmington, hitting just .141 with 41 strikeouts.

While his unflawed conquests on the lanes and his promotion to the Minor Leagues serve as accent marks for Seratelli's life, perhaps neither is as meaningful as how he spends his winters.

Since his sophomore year at Seton Hall, Seratelli has coached 14-year-olds at a variety of baseball camps and clinics. Once he got a chance to give back to younger athletes trying to break into the game and develop their skills, he took it.

"When I entered college, I became sort of an icon who had played college ball. I always had the guys to look up to when I was [at baseball camp], so I knew what it was like," Seratelli said. "Then I went back and did the same thing for kids who were in high school at the time."

Some of the guys Seratelli learned from during his youth? Craig Biggio, John Valentin, Matt Morris and John Morris.

Now he's one of the "big shots," playing professional baseball and helping members of the California Knights Baseball Academy eliminate the loop in their swing or scoop the ball properly at first base.

"It was kind of a big hit. Everyone was like, 'He plays for the Kansas City Royals now. He might be even better than we thought he was,'" Seratelli said.

For Seratelli, there's no greater reward than when players call and thank him after they make their high school team, or tell him they're playing American Legion because of the skills they developed under his tutelage.

Cultivating baseball talent isn't simply something Seratelli aims to teach, but also something he's very much a part of at Wilmington. He attends 9:00 a.m. batting practice with hitting coach Nelson Liriano, he works out with strength coach Garrett Sherrill and he discusses situational defense with manager Darryl Kennedy. In addition to serving him in the present, the advice he's receiving as a member of the Blue Rocks will almost assuredly serve him when he returns to California -- where his mother lives -- to coach this offseason.

"I get to interact with so many managers and coaches that you see different styles. I try to form my own coaching style around the guys I feel impact me the best," Seratelli said.

"You have to understand, different people like to coach different ways. Some guys, I just don't work with well. It's not that they're bad people, but the way they coach and the way I listen just doesn't work. So I try to take it in and maybe be able to use it when I'm coaching to get through to the kid. It's important for a lot of coaches to understand, and I don't think some do."

Kennedy, in his second year as skipper of the Blue Rocks, observes traces of instructor within Seratelli's clubhouse demeanor.

"He's definitely a student of the game," Kennedy said. "Even when he doesn't play, you can see him sitting there and trying to figure things out. I can see the wheels are turning. He's a very intelligent player, and I think he's got a future down the road in that, as far as being a coach."

Forty-four games into the season, however, Seratelli's mind couldn't be further from spending the majority of a baseball game in the dugout.

"I try not to think about it, because I feel like when I'm thinking about that, my [playing] career's not the focus, but we'll see when the time comes," he said. "It's definitely possible, but we're staying here right now."

Either way, it's evident that despite flashes of brilliance in bowling, Seratelli made the right choice.

"It's different because it's something you do for yourself when you're bowling. Here, when you do something -- even though it may be a personal accomplishment, like a walk-off hit -- you're helping a team of 25 guys," he said. "It's a little less selfish in that way."

Nick Cammarota is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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