The idea that Tejay Antone gets plenty of ground balls isn’t exactly new. The Cincinnati Reds selected Antone out of Weatherford College in the 5th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. He spent time in both Arizona with the Goodyear Reds and in Billings with the Mustangs that first season. His ground ball rate that year, in a limited sample size of 54.2 innings, was 49.8%. There were ground ball tendencies, and his rate was above-average, but it wasn’t hitting elite levels.

That changed the next season for the right-handed starter. With the Dayton Dragons in 2015 Tejay Antone would go out and made 26 starts. And he was rather successful in the Midwest League, posting a 2.91 ERA in 158.0 innings. His ground ball rate jumped up to 59.1% on the season. That’s not quite Brandon Webb-like, but it’s a very high rate of grounders.

The next season was more of the same. He once again made 26 starts – 25 with Daytona and one for Louisville – where he posted a 3.45 ERA in 156.1 innings. The ground ball rate was 58.3% for Antone between his two stops. What he had shown in his time with both Dayton and Daytona in 2015 and 2016 was that he was going to limit walks and generate a whole lot of contact on the ground. It’s a good recipe for success if you can do it.

Unfortunately for Tejay Antone, he missed the entire 2017 season, and then about half of the 2018 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. When he returned, he headed back to Daytona – where he had pitched in 2016. His strikeout rate jumped up, but his ground ball rate fell off in a big way that season. In his 17 starts for the Tortugas his rate of grounders dipped to 47.6%. That was the lowest mark of his career, and it was significantly lower than where he had been prior to Tommy John surgery.

The 25-year-old was moved up in 2019 to Double-A by the Cincinnati Reds. With the Chattanooga Lookouts this season Tejay Antone has now made seven starts. And Thursday night was the best one of the season. He tossed 6.0 perfect innings and he struck out four batters. Of the other 14 outs he recorded, 12 of them were on ground balls. The start dropped his ERA to 2.84 on the season for the Lookouts. And it took his ground ball rate on the year to 62.9%. That’s the second best rate in the Southern League among pitchers with at least 20 innings. It’s only seven starts, but that would be the highest rate of his career if it holds up.  

5 Responses

  1. Cguy

    I have Tejay Antone as my #8 “new face” to be possibly included in Doug’s 2019 midseason Top 25 Prospect List. That list includes: 1). Reds 1st round pick in June draft (#7 overall). 2) Josh Van Meter. 3)Alfredo Rodriguez. 4) Reds 2nd round pick in June draft (#49 overall). 5) Brian O’Grady. 6) Packy Naughton. 7) Scott Moss. 8) Tejay Antone. 9) Cory Thompson. 10) Calten Daal. 11) Reds 3rd round pick on June draft (#85 overall). & 12) Michel Triana. I put the over/under on new faces @ 6.5.

    Reply
    • Ryan

      Out of that list I like Antone and O’Grady’s chances. VanMETER will likley lose his prospect status. I also think Ryan Lillie breaks out this season. Juan Martinez(I think-Dayton’s 3rd baseman) is another candidate if he’s still hitting(he’s slowed down recently). It will take more than a hot month to convince me on Alf-Rod.

      Reply
  2. Eriv

    Any data on fb vel? I just read previous pieces from 2015 where he was sitting 90-93. Just wondering if old scouting report still applies.

    Reply
  3. AirborneJayJay

    That is great to hear about Antone. He was one of my minor league breakout players this year. His fastball has good sinking action on it, thus the ground outs. If starting doesn’t work out then the bullpen should be a good spot with that kind of ground ball rate. When he gets on a roll he can put 7 or 8 outstanding starts together. He might have just started one.

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