Born: April 18, 1990
Towns: Howell & Colts Neck
Anthony James DeSclafani was born April 18, 1990 in Freehold and grew up in Howell. A good all-around athlete, he grew to 6’1” as a teenager and was throwing a fastball in the 80s by the time he joined Mike Yorke’s Colts Neck High Cougars.
Anthony’s speed and control drew scores of college and pro scouts. As a junior he began toying with a changeup and mastered it within a few months. Rather than waiting until his senior year, Anthony committed to the University of Florida as a junior. The Boston Red Sox still gambled a pick on him, selecting him in the 22nd round.
With the recruiting pressure off, Anthony glided to a 7–1 record and a sub-1.50 ERA. The Cougars repeated as Shore Conference division champs and made it all the way to the Central Jersey title game.
Playing for Kevin O’Sullivan’s Gators, Anthony had a good freshman year and a poor sophomore season. After sharpening his game in the Cape Cod Summer League, he returned to school as a junior and helped Florida win 53 games in 2011. That spring, the Gators won the SEC Tournament and reached the College World Series final. They lost 2 games to 0 to South Carolina. Anthony’s college catcher was Mike Zunino, one of the nation’s top prospects.
The Toronto Blue Jays drafted Anthony in the 6th round and he began his pro career in 2012. He went 11–3 and ended up as a key part of the mega-trade between the Jays and Marlins that winter. Among the players involved in this deal were Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Jake Marisnick, Adeiny Hechevarria, Yunel Escoabr, John Buck, Josh Johnson, Jeff Mathis, Emilio Bonifacio and Henderson Alvarez.
Viewed by many as a future middle reliever, Anthony continued to improve his slider and changeup and showed he had the secondary pitches needed by a big-league starter. He went 9–6 in 2013 and was named Miami’s 2013 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Anthony was called up to the Marlins in May of 2014 after Jose Fernandez was shut down for the year with an arm injury. He won his first start, going six strong innings against the Dodgers. He saw action in 13 games. He went 2–2 with a 6.27 ERA. The Marlins decided that 2015 was a “win-now” year and dealt Anthony to the Reds for veteran Mat Latos. While Latos got bombed in his first two starts for Miami, Anthony sparkled in his debut with the Reds. In the season’s first three weeks, he was the only Cincinnati starter to log a victory. He ended the year 9–13 with 4.05 ERA in 31 starts.
Anthony went 9–9 the following season but experienced elbow problems. He missed all of 2017 with a sore UCL, but returned to the mound and pitched well in 2018. In 2019, Anthony had his best season, making 31 start and striking out 167 batters in 166 2/3 innings.