Tejay Making Way

Tejay Antone turned in a solid outing and Ty Washington pounded out three hits to lead Dayton to a 5-1 win over Fort Wayne. The win guarantees the Dragons keep their spot among the top three in the division and they’ll wake up no worse than their current two games behind the leader.

Dayton continued their winning ways against visiting Fort Wayne Monday by defeating the TinCaps 5-1 for their eighth victory in the last ten games. The Dragons struck early when Ty Washington led off the first inning with a double before scoring on an error and later that inning Paul Kronenfeld added on with a bases-loaded walk. Those two struck again in the sixth when Kronenfeld hit an inside-the-park home run and Washington finished his team’s scoring with a two-run homer.

Washington led Dayton with three hits and two RBI while Kronenfeld and Brian O’Grady both reached safely three times with a hit and two walks each. On the mound Tejay Antone got the win from a solid outing, one run on seven hits over seven innings while recording seven strikeouts without a walk. Jacob Ehret relieved him and ended the game with two scoreless frames.

Though it’s Washington’s fourth professional season, it’s his first full one and thus far he’s given indications that he’s going to be an effective leadoff hitter for Dayton. His outburst Friday lifted his average close to the .300 level and he’s reaching base slightly over the .350 OB clip. He only has one stolen base in 2015, but there’s good reason to expect that number to inflate because he swiped twenty bags at Billings last year while getting caught only three times.

Washington has been a bit of a unique prospect ever since Cincinnati drafted him in the 43rd round out of East Plano (TX) High School in 2011. Late selection non-withstanding, they must have seen something they liked because they went over slot to sign him with a $300,000 bonus. After that he started competing in the rookie leagues while only eighteen years old with decent success, hitting .275 AVG/.334 OB over 120 games. In the field he brings more of a “Jose Altuve” physique (5’9”/160#) to second base, and continued development at the plate along with his solid defensive skills will be a ticket for this now-20 year-old right-hander to advance.

Antone has now won two games in five starts and lowered his ERA down to 2.43 across almost 30 innings. He’s been stingy with his walks, allowing only four and only three after his first outing which means his K/BB ratio is now an even six. Thus far in the young season he’s been a very nice surprise after getting knocked around in the rookie leagues during his professional debut last season.

Cincinnati went off the beaten path to get Antone who was their fifth round selection last year out of Weatherford (TX) College last season. He was drafted previously by the Mets in the 22nd round in 2012, but opted to attend Texas Christian University instead. After he was relegated to bullpen duty at TCU he transferred to Weatherford for the opportunity to start. The right-hander has the size (6’4”/205#) for the rotation and had he not signed last year he’d been on his way to continue collegiately at Auburn.

Instead he’s now in his second season in the Cincinnati system and drawing attention with his fastball that is consistently in the 90’s, topping out around 95 mph with good sink. He also throws a changeup, slider, and curve, which all need development, but that hasn’t prevented him from a solid start in the Midwest League while still only 21 years old.

Juco or no, Antone is another good arm that has been injected into the lower levels of the Cincinnati development system. Not all will make it to the top level, but some will and right now it appears he’s got a trip to high-A in his future to start off next season if not sooner. It’s a bit puzzling how a pitcher that couldn’t crack the rotation for TCU can lead his team in innings pitched with a sub-three ernie in the Midwest League, but it’s not an uncommon story. It appears he made a good choice to go to junior college for more innings and Cincinnati is also feeling good about pulling the trigger on him in round five.


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