Kay gets back in the saddle for Ponies

No. 8 Mets prospect strikes out 10 over six shutout frames

Anthony Kay is sporting a 1.89 ERA and has 22 strikeouts over his first 19 Eastern League innings. (Jeremy Donovan/MiLB.com)

By Rob Terranova / MiLB.com | April 23, 2019 12:28 AM

After a rough outing his last time on the hill, Anthony Kay decided it was time to make a change -- he was going to speed things up.

The No. 8 Mets prospect spent the week working on accelerating the tempo in his delivery and brought this new modification with him to his fourth start of the year Monday, when he was ... off to the races.

Kay worked around a hit and three walks to post six shutout frames as Double-A Binghamton coasted past Akron, 16-3, at Canal Park. Kay punched out 10 -- all within the first four innings -- and threw 57 of 90 pitches for strikes.

Video: Binghamton's Kay picks up 10th K

"Whenever you have a tough outing, you wanna be out there right away," he said. "So it was good to be out there again, and I was aggressive with them all night and it paid off."

In his Eastern League debut on April 4, Kay (1-1) yielded an unearned run on three hits and two walks while fanning four over 4 2/3 innings at New Hampshire. The following week, the 24-year-old made his first home start and walked three without allowing a hit and struck out four over 3 2/3 frames against the SeaWolves. Facing the Fisher Cats again on April 16, he was touched up for five runs -- four earned -- in 4 2/3 innings.

"I felt like I was a little too slow and deliberate the last time out, so I worked on speeding things up in my delivery and it definitely translated over into the game," Kay said. "I think it really helped with my off-speed stuff and keeping everything in the zone."

On Monday, the left-hander did not allow a baserunner until there was one out in the fourth frame. After starting the game with back-to-back whiffs on eight pitches, Kay got No. 22 Indians prospect Daniel Johnson to lift a lazy fly ball to left field on a 1-1 offering to end the frame. It was more of the same in the second, when Kay fanned Wilson Garcia and Li-Jen Chu before getting Ka'ai Tom to fly out.

The 2016 first-rounder didn't need any help from his fielders in the third. He struck out the side in order on 15 pitches.

"You don't even really realize how well you're doing. You're just out there pitching and it feels good when you're in that kind of zone," Kay said. "You get that deep into the game and realize you haven't been in the stretch yet. It's definitely cool."

After whiffing Jorma Rodriguez to open the fourth, Kay issued a five-pitch walk to Mitch Longo. Johnson worked the count full, but went down swinging on the seventh pitch of the at-bat. Garcia put Longo into scoring position by turning around the first pitch of his next at-bat to line a base hit into center. But Kay got Chu to chase a 2-2 breaking ball in the dirt to escape the threat unscathed.

Gameday box score

The University of Connecticut product recorded two quick outs in the fifth before issuing consecutive walks on 10 pitches. Kay got Rodriguez to ground into a 6-4 forceout to end the inning.

Kay retired the side in order in the sixth on 10 pitches. He was lifted with the Rumble Ponies ahead, 11-0, and wound up with his first Double-A victory.

"We've had some good pitching performances in a row here, so when you take the mound, you kinda just want to keep the train going," he said.

The southpaw lowered his ERA to 1.89 and has a 0.95 WHIP with 22 strikeouts and nine walks over 19 Eastern League frames. His 10 strikeouts marked the most by a Binghamton starter since Franklyn Kilome whiffed 10 on Aug. 10 against the Fightin Phils last year. The only other time Kay recorded double-digit punchouts was last season when he fanned 11 on June 28 for Class A Columbia.

In his first professional season -- after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery -- last year, Kay split time between the South Atlantic League and the Florida State League and compiled a 4.26 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP with 123 strikeouts and 49 walks over 122 2/3 innings.

"They say it takes two full years after Tommy John surgery to start really feeling like yourself again, and I'm definitely starting to feel better than last year. I'm more comfortable on the mound and starting to get back to my old self," he said. "Last year, I wasn't as motivated. I was just going through the motions a little bit, just trying to get through the games and stay healthy. This year, I'm definitely working more towards getting guys out and improving all my stuff rather than just going through it."

2019 MiLB include

Second-ranked Mets prospect Andres Gimenez provided Kay with plenty of run support. MLB.com's No. 55 overall prospect laced a three-RBI double to left as part of a four-run fourth. Gimenez also added a single and scored twice as he extended his hitting streak to six games. He has 10 runs scored, six RBIs and is batting .286 through 11 games. No. 28 Mets prospect Ali Sanchez finished 3-for-5 with a double, a walk, three RBIs and a run scored.

Binghamton's offense set season highs with 16 runs and 17 hits while extending the club's winning streak to four games.

Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RobTnova24. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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