Ian Anderson, RHP
2016 Level: Rk Danville
5 G, 5 GS
(stats from two rookie league levels)
Anderson was a 1st-round pick for Atlanta in 2016 (the third pick in the draft overall) out of Shenedehowa HS in the upper Hudson Valley of New York. Anderson was slowed his senior year of high school by pneumonia which dropped his pre-draft stock in the eyes of some outlets, but the Braves had him targeted early. Anderson agreed to a $4 million signing bonus, which saved the Braves $2.5 million in their bonus pool to spread out on their over-slot signings. From draft day on however, the Braves have insisted that Anderson wasn’t a purposeful overslot pick and that he was the guy they wanted at that spot. While the Braves were carefully monitoring Anderson’s workload as he was re-building strength, so far the early results have justified the pick. Assigned to the Gulf Coast League, Anderson debuted with 18 scoreless innings spread over 5 starts. Pushed to Danville, Anderson gave up some runs (3.74 ERA in Danville), but his peripheral numbers stayed mostly in line with his Gulf Coast stint.
Anderson is a somewhat lanky 6’-3”, 170 pounds but projects to fill out some. He hasn’t quite figured out how to get that length all working together and his delivery can look a little jerky and sudden at times, though the Braves have clearly worked with him to smooth it out. Anderson’s release point can also sometimes fluctuate. That all said, Anderson’s fastball sits around 93-95 mph with a nice late break. To complement the fastball, Anderson can consistently pound the lower half of the strikezone with a biting change-up and a late-breaking curveball, both of which already project as plus offerings. Anderson also gets good marks for mound presence and poise above what would be expected for an 18 year old in his first pro experience.
Braves Director of Scouting Brian Bridges has compared Anderson to Mike Mussina, while former Brave and MLB Network analyst John Smoltz sees Jacob deGrom. If the Braves can work Anderson through some mechanical tweeks to allow the rest of his body to absorb some of the work he’s currently making his arm do and still maintain that control, the Braves may have a very special player on their hands. The Braves may try to limit Anderson’s innings in 2017 and start him in extended spring training, but I believe they will challenge him with an opening day assignment with class-A Rome.