The two players in February and March in Goodyear that were getting people talking in Cincinnati Reds spring training were shortstop Jose Garcia and right-handed pitcher Tejay Antone. Garcia, a then 21-year-old shortstop (he’s since turned 22), was putting on a big power display, having hit four homers – including two in one game – during his 13 appearances. When the spring shut down, he was slugging .700 out in Arizona. The on-field performance for Tejay Antone wasn’t talked about as much, but he allowed just one run in 6.1 innings and struck out five batters. It was more so that he came out firing fastballs in the 96-98 MPH range, though, after sitting 89-92 in the past.
When the Reds released their player pool of 57 men for the roster, both Tejay Antone and Jose Garcia were included. Neither came as a surprise. But since things have opened back up in the baseball world over the last two weeks, the two of them have gone back to impressing those who are watching.
Over the weekend Tejay Antone made a start for one of the Reds squads. Things went quite well for the righty, as he struck out seven batters in 3.0 hitless innings where the hitters who did make contact against him failed to get the ball out of the infield.
“He looked really good in spring training. He’s growing in confidence and coming into his own,” said Reds manager David Bell. “He’s a pitcher I’ve heard a lot about up until this spring training from people within our organization. He’s really shown he’s becoming a better pitcher – the velocity has been up, the breaking stuff is really good. The big thing is the way he’s carrying himself and the confidence in which he’s pitching. He’s showing that he can pitch here. He showed it in spring training, he really opened a lot of eyes in spring training and so if he continues to trend in this way he’s going to factor in this season for us, for sure.”
Last night in the scrimmage at Great American Ballpark, Jose Garcia battled against Sal Romano in his first at-bat, and he laced a double to left field and to the wall. While he would later be caught stealing by Tucker Barnhart, it was just another instance where Garcia was showing off his ability to hit. The current Reds shortstop, Freddy Galvis, has been impressed with what he’s been seeing in 2020 from the young Cuban-born infielder.
“I think he’s going to be a pretty special player. He has all the tools to be successful in the big leagues,” Galvis said of Garcia. ” (I) Just try to remind him to do the regular things that you have to do – the regular play, trying to stay in the game, have his mind in the game – that’s the only way he can develop more of his defense. Try to be thinking, try to be talking with the other guys, ask the coaches – I think for me, I see him like a pretty special player. He has all the potential to become a star. For me, it’s trying to help him. We are on the same team – try to make him good, try to make him feel comfortable. That way I know he can help the team pretty soon. I think he has all the tools and I always wish the best for him.”
The 30-man opening day roster hasn’t been decided yet, though manager David Bell said he expects to have it soon as he’d like everyone to know their role and situation before the season begins – which is next Friday. While Garcia may be the next in line as far as being a “true shortstop” goes, he’s not likely to make the roster until that spot is in need of being filled. Antone, a starter in the minors, isn’t going to break into the rotation for opening day, but there’s an outside chance he could grab a spot in the bullpen. If not, he’ll likely head to Prasco Park and continue to work as a starter and provide depth for either the rotation or bullpen should a need arise in either spot.