Cincinnati Reds: 5 players most likely to have a breakout season

Mar 21, 2021; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jesse Winker against the Chicago Cubs during a Spring Training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 21, 2021; Mesa, Arizona, USA; Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jesse Winker against the Chicago Cubs during a Spring Training game at Sloan Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tejay Antone (70) throws a pitch in the second inning of the MLB Cactus League Spring Training game.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tejay Antone (70) throws a pitch in the second inning of the MLB Cactus League Spring Training game. /

Tejay Antone, Reds right-handed pitcher

Tejay Antone will be in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation before the All-Star break. That’s not a bold prediction. In fact, I think a good majority of Reds Country would agree with me. Antone had his sights set on the starting rotation heading into spring training and has done nothing but perform. While ticketed for the bullpen, I don’t think he’ll stay there for long.

Had Antone had the opportunity to stretch out more this spring, I think he’d be starting the season in the rotation in place of Jose De Leon. While De Leon has enjoyed a successful spring and could be a pleasant surprise this season, Antone is the real deal. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Texan looks ready to show the baseball world that he means business.

Antone was an unknown last season before making his major league debut. The right-hander wasn’t on the radar of many scouts and was ranked 29th in the Reds farm system during the 2019 season by MLB Pipeline. Antone was ranked behind highly-touted prospects like Vladimir Gutierrez, Tony Santillan, Lyon Richardson, and Joel Kuhnel. I think Antone will better than all four of those pitchers.

Antone works fast and he pounds the strike zone on a regular basis; basically begging hitters to come after his stuff. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017 and battling back in 2018, Antone became a fixture in the Louisville Bats’ rotation in 2019.

Antone’s fastball sits in the mid-90s, but he can certainly crank it up to 97 MPH or higher. The 27-year-old has posted a 1.17 ERA through 7.2 innings this spring while striking out 13 batters and walking three. Tejay Antone will be one of the biggest surprises in Major League Baseball this season.