As Chase Antle progressed through the Grove City baseball program, he embraced what he calls the Greyhounds’ “dirtbag” approach to the game.
He carried that mindset, which focuses on hustle and a strong work ethic, to the collegiate level, and he figures it will serve him well as a professional player.
Antle, who graduated from Grove City in 2015, signed a free-agent contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on June 16 after not being selected in the MLB draft. He pitched collegiately for Bowling Green and Coastal Carolina.
“It was always a dream of mine and I really thought I had the potential to play at the next level in high school and even when I got to college,” he said. “I used all that work to help my team win, but more importantly (to have a chance to) get to the big leagues. It’s been a dream I’ve been chasing.”
Antle received free-agent offers from 12 teams following the draft, which was held June 10 and 11 and trimmed from the usual 40 rounds to five to cut costs amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“Even though the (draft) didn’t end the way I wanted it to, I knew that I was going to get an opportunity at the end of the day and that’s all I could really ask for,” he said.
Awaiting the potential return of baseball, which has been on hold because of the pandemic, Antle has been training in his hometown. He often works out with major league pitcher Mike Mayers, a 2010 Grove City graduate who is preparing for his first season with the Los Angeles Angels after previously playing for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Antle said he became a New York Yankees fan at a young age, so when he received a phone call from first-year Phillies manager Joe Girardi during the draft to discuss the team’s interest in him, he was elated. Girardi managed the Yankees from 2008-17, guiding the team to the World Series title in 2009.
“I really liked the Yankees growing up, but I’m really happy and excited to be a fan of the Phillies and hopefully be in the big leagues soon,” Antle said. “It was pretty surreal talking with (Girardi) and getting to know him a little bit. It was really shocking to me when he reached out.”
Antle will next take a physical and await word on when to report to the Phillies’ minor league facility in Clearwater, Florida.
He pitched three seasons at Bowling Green, but sat out the 2018 season after undergoing biceps tenodesis surgery to his right pitching arm. Antle said he missed 16 months of action.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management with a minor in marketing from Bowling Green in 2019. He then enrolled at Coastal Carolina last summer to pursue a master’s degree in business administration and play his redshirt senior season this spring.
“My Bowling Green career was one I wished would have been a little bit better and I wish I had thrown a little bit better, but it set me up for an experience at Coastal that has really got me to this position,” Antle said. “I learned a lot at Bowling Green about myself and rehabbed through an injury.”
He had a 0.00 ERA with one save and did not allow a hit in three innings this spring before the Chanticleers saw their season end because of the pandemic.
Antle, who throws a fastball and curveball, had pitches reach 99 mph during his short stint with Coastal Carolina.
“I didn’t question that I could play baseball at the next level, I just knew that I had a lot of work to do,” Antle said. “Fortunately, when I got to Coastal, I got working (last) July and I got my confidence back and I had a pretty good year. … What we call a ‘dirtbag’ at Grove City is pretty much the same thing at Coastal.”
Antle helped lead Grove City to a Division I district title in 2014, going 7-1 with a 1.47 ERA, 47 strikeouts and 31 walks in 52 1/3 innings. He was named second-team all-OCC-Ohio Division.
“He’s a relentless worker, always trying to perfect his game,” Grove City coach Ryan Alexander said. “He’s had his trials of getting hurt, throwing strikes in college and he really had to redefine himself a few different times. When he went to Coastal, it all started to click for him. I’m just so happy for him.”
Antle said he couldn’t have reached this point without help from Alexander.
“Coach ‘A’ has been a huge part of this,” Antle said. “He’s been a huge supporter for me since the day I got to Grove City and started working with him. He’s a guy that I’ve always called whenever I’ve struggled or did well. We’ve just talked, and he’s helped me get back to where I need to be. He’s always had confidence in me and stuck by me with everything that I’ve gone through.”