Auburn Gets Commitment From Top Juco Pitcher

Big right-hander Tejay Antone from Weatherford (Tex.) College talks about his commitment and what the former TCU Horned Frog saw from the Tigers.

Weatherford, Tex.--Coach Sunny Golloway and the Auburn Tigers are beefing up the pitching staff in a big way with a commitment from one of the top junior college pitchers in the country for 2015. Big Tejay Antone (6-4, 220) is a hard throwing right-hander that is expected to make an immediate impact when he arrives on the Plains next year.

Recruited out of high school by Golloway at Oklahoma before he chose to go closer to home at TCU, Antone said it was good to be around the first-year Auburn coach again and he's excited about what the future holds for him with the Tigers. Expected to join a starting rotation that could feature freshmen Keegan Thompson and Kevin Davis with Anfernee Grier, Damon Haecker, Connor Short, Blake Logan and Daniel Robert all making an impact in the field, Antone said he's pumped just thinking about the possibilities.

"I had known him before and I met him when I was taking visits to OU," Antone said. "He was just talking to me about all of the starting freshmen that are there that would all be coming back. I was really impressed because that's a lot of experience they are getting this year. I do think they are going to be good this year, but I think they're going to be 100 times better next year when they have that whole year of starting as freshmen and coming back as sophomores. I'll have an extremely strong defense and strong offense on my side."

While his future teammates and the strength of the team was a huge selling point for Antone, he said another big thing for him was having the opportunity to play baseball in the best league in the country. Facing off against LSU, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and other perennial powers every week is something he's ready to experience.

"It's very exciting, being a starting pitcher in the SEC is a kid's dream," Antone said. "I'm extremely excited about that. I told all my teammates yesterday and they were excited for me. I'm just very thankful and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to play baseball."

Choosing the Tigers over Arizona, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Rice and several more top programs from around the country, Antone visited Auburn last weekend and said once he saw the campus, facilities, and academic support on campus he knew that he wanted to be an Auburn Tiger.

"I went to TCU my freshman year so I knew Division I and I knew what to look for and I knew what I liked and what I disliked and what I needed and what I didn't need so much of at a university," Antone tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "I went around and met the academic advisor and strength and conditioning coach and all of the coaches including the pitching coach (Scott Foxhall).

"I met everyone and really the questions I needed to know that were going to help me get better in every aspect, not just baseball but also academics because I want to get my degree, I got answered. All of the coaches were flexible and they were all determined to make my better. I really liked that. The school was in a small town and I really like that. I also like that there are two main teams in Alabama, Auburn and Alabama, and you're one or the other. I like that. There are no big pro teams that people bandwagon on. You pick Auburn or Alabama and you stick with it."

Originally from Mansfield, Tex., Antone was a standout at Legacy High before enrolling at TCU as a freshman. Drafted in the 22nd round out of high school by the New York Mets, he was a three-year letterwinner and named the Star-Telegram Pitcher of the Year as a junior after posting an ERA of just 1.41.

As a freshman with the Horned Frogs, Antone made six appearances in relief and finished with a record of 5-1. His best outing came in the Big 12 Tournament when he allowed three unearned runs on just one hit in three and one/third innings against West Virginia. Wanting to get more innings under his belt and get some starting experience, he transferred to Weatherford College where he's in the starting rotation this year.

"I talked to Coach (Jim) Schlossnagel at the end of the season and he saw me as a bullpen guy getting 30 or 40 innings," Antone said. "It's not that I disagreed with him, I just thought I would get more work going to Weatherford and starting and getting 70, 80, 90 innings. I told him that if TCU sees me as a Horned Frog still to come back after me and I would love to come back, but I guess they just filled up their staff and didn't need me. That's completely understandable. It's a business out there. So, I'm a starting pitcher at Weatherford getting my innings in and getting better everyday. Now I'm going to Auburn."

Currently 1-2 this season in seven starts with an ERA of 2.21, Antone has 41 strikeouts in 35 ? innings pitched. A power pitcher, there is a good chance that he will again get a call from Major League Baseball following this season. While he said you've got to listen when that happens, Antone is set on pitching at Auburn in 2015.

"It's something I'll cross when the time comes," Antone said. "I'm going to be asking for quite a bit of money, so I would have to be picked pretty high up to bypass a year at Auburn."

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