Leonardo Seminati was the slugging first baseman for Italy at the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2017 in Thunder Bay.
Italy finished in ninth place (2-6 record) and posted a .206 team batting average. Leonardo went 11 for 26 (.423 batting average), with 2 home runs (a game tying blast against Korea and a monstre shot against the hosts Canada) and 7 RBIs. He struck out 8 times and drew 6 walks. His on base percentage was .531 and his OPS was as high as 1.185. He was selected as the first baseman of the All World Team.
— ⚾ WBSC (@WBSC) September 5, 2017
When he got to Thunder Bay, 18 year old (born January 1999 in Torre Boldone, near Bergamo) Seminati had already made his debut in the Italian Baseball League for Parma (he appeared in 8 games, started 2, during the 2017 season; he went 4 for 14, with a triple and 3 RBIs). In July he had signed (through scout Sal Varriale) as an international free agent for MLB’s Cincinnati Reds and a reported US$ 135,000 bonus, Reds’ largest on the international market this season. The Reds, thanks to WBSC-MLB-MLBPA global player agreement, allowed Seminati to represent Italy in the U-18 World Cup.
Seminati made his professional debut in late September during Cincinnati’s Instructional League in Arizona and he did impress Reds Farm Director Jeff Graupe, who told to MLB.com: “He’s playing above expectations…He has major power. He hit a ball over the scoreboard in Glendale. But he’s also a really good athlete. He has the ability to play first, third, and I think he could play the outfield”.
Leonardo Seminati is very much focused on what he’s doing: “I’m trying to improve every day, playing attention to every detail. They keep telling us that, as we progress in the system, we are going to see that everybody has talent. Consistency, details, the little things, can make a difference”.
Seminati does not feel being european makes him part of a minority: “I believe baseball programs in Europe have improved a lot, lately. That’s way scouts take deeper looks at european players, I guess”.
Seminati himself developed through the very succesfull Italian Federation (FIBS) Academy in Tirrenia (near Pisa). Still, the Instructional League workload impressed him: “We lived long days. The wake up call was at 6.30 and we played games after the morning practice”.
Playing more games is what could help player’s development in Europe: “Playing games is the divide between amateur and professional baseball. If you can experience during a game situations you have been practising, you’re going to improve”.
Leonardo Seminati confessed he’s looking forward to the 2018 season during the Late Night show with Fabio Fazio on National TV RAI. Comedian Fabio De Luigi, a backup outfielder for Rimini in the 1990s, introduced Leonardo like: “The guy really envy”.
After Spring Training 2018, Seminati will have his first pro assignment. But before committing to baseball, he has a priority: “I am going to be back to Italy in June for my High School graduation exam”.