Ian Anderson, RHP, ATL

The #3 overall pick in the 2016 Draft is knocking on the door. What can we expect?

Video courtesy of FanGraphs
  • Born: May 2, 1998
  • B/T: R/R
  • 6’3″, 170-lbs
  • Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 1st round of the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft from Shenendehowa HS (Clifton Park, NY)

The Numbers

His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

I like the trend of his K% and K%-BB% rates. He climbs a level, and then ratchets up the strikeouts a little more each time.

The walk rate, although not climbing, is not falling either, and at this point is the key thing that could hold him back from sustained success. When you have a good WHIP, but not great WHIP, it means you are having some success, but not dominating the batters.

His walk problem at Triple-A was entirely due to lefties. In Double-A it was lefties who hit home runs against him even though the walk rate was similar. So this is something to keep an eye on, how he handles LHB in the majors.

You see those lefty home runs hit to right field. Otherwise it’s a balanced chart.

Now let’s get real: this chart starts when he was a teenager, a high school pitcher drafted in the first round and steadily going up the levels. In 2018 he struggled with A+ at first, then started to get the hang of it. In 2019 he struggled at AA at first, then started to get the hang of it. Then he struggled at AAA, then ran out of season.

We get the picture of a pitcher who adjusts to a new level, then thrives. When he reaches the majors, don’t be discouraged if he struggles at first.

He has a three-pitch mix:

  • A low-90s FB that comes over the top with great extension
  • A 12-to-6 CB in the mid-70s
  • A plus changeup in the mid-80s

The Scouts

Warnings

One problem for Anderson is his low spin rate that can only be partially compensated against by his extension and deception.

Another is his command of his pitches, leading to high walk rates that could lead to troublesome WHIPS.

Conclusion

On the plus side, he has a three-pitch mix, and two of them have the potential to be plus. Just get average command with those pitches and he’s a #2 SP, but a #3 is more likely.

Given his relative struggles at his first taste of AAA, more time there is warranted, whenever that happens. Then I expect struggles at the major league level, and then a year or so later the Braves will see they have a new mainstay in their rotation for years to come.

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