- TEAM: Miami Marlins
- AGE: 23
- POSITION: 3B/2B
- BATS: Right
- THROWS: Right
- HEIGHT: 6-foot-3
- WEIGHT: 185 lbs.
- ACQUIRED: The Miami Marlins selected Anderson in the third round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. The Minnesota Twins had previously selected him in the 20th round of the 2011 Draft but decided to go to college instead.
I have just watched Brian Anderson hit fairly good pitching in the recently completed six-week Arizona Fall League. He was making his second appearance in the league, having played eight games in the 2015 edition of the AFL.
Anderson finished the short Arizona season among the best-hitting third baseman. He was among the bench players on the composite postseason All-Star team I selected. He showed excellent bat control while striking out only nine times in 86 plate appearances. He walked nine times on his way to a .273 Fall League batting average. He showed some very real power, hitting five home runs and driving in 12 runs. He also had three doubles for his Mesa team. Anderson’s five homers led the league.
Anderson played on the East Division team in the league’s Fall Stars game, getting a hit and scoring a run in two trips to the plate.
I observed three very playable tools in Anderson’s overall game. Not only can hit for power, I think he can hit for a good overall batting average as he continues to mature.
His other obvious tool was his ability to play solid defense at third base. He is very agile, and using his flexibility and agility, he gets to balls using good range and quick footwork. His hands are both quick and soft.
Finally, I like his arm strength from third base. His arm appears to be better than major league average with good strength and carry on his throws.
Anderson’s bat speed and his very good pitch recognition pay dividends with his success using the entire field. He’s a true gap hitter with enough bat speed to hit his share of ringing doubles.
It is Anderson’s approach at the plate that dictates his success. He doesn’t try to exceed his own limitations by swinging at pitches that he can’t handle. Rather, he looks for pitches he can drive and he doesn’t miss them. His contact rate and barrel-of-the-bat approach are both very impressive.
The only tool I haven’t seen from Anderson is above-average foot speed. He has to labor to get those doubles or to score from second. He doesn’t have enough speed or quickness to steal bases. So while he can get on base with his bat or by taking a walk, he may have to go station-to-station to score. He has shown a good on-base percentage throughout parts of three seasons in his minor league career.
A lack of patience was one of the criticisms of Anderson’s game. My observations showed quite the opposite. I saw him take the type of pitches he couldn’t drive with some true selectivity, pitch recognition and yes, patience.
Anderson was an important component of the University of Arkansas club that went to NCAA Regional tournaments.
For his career at Arkansas, he hit .318 with 13 home runs and 98 RBI on his way to being noticed by major league scouts.
Anderson seriously considered signing with the Twins when he was drafted out of Deer Creek High School in 2011. Instead, he and his friend and teammate Michael Fulmer both decided to go to Arkansas. Fulmer, now a star pitcher and the Rookie of the Year for Detroit, signed with the New York Mets after being drafted.
Offensively, Anderson has a wiry but strong enough frame to provide enough power to play third base. He could stand to add a bit more depth to his frame, but he’s doing fine right now.
Defensively, he is a very solid and dependable third baseman. He consistently gets to balls hit to either his right or left with a quick first step. His reactions are quick and true.
Opening Day of the 2016 Arizona Fall League was not kind to Anderson. He took a bad hop grounder in the head and had to leave the game. He returned to the lineup in short order and was fine the rest of the fall.
Overall, Anderson’s combination of solid offense, paired with dependable defense, translates to a consistent and very complete major league level player.
He still needs some more repetition and development time against quality pitching to hone his skills. During the remainder of his development he may be used in the outfield or even at first base to increase his versatility.
THE FUTURE OF ANDERSON
Anderson’s overall game was impressive in the Arizona Fall League. He showed he hits good Class-A Advanced and Double-A type pitching. He can likely progress enough in his next assignment to move right along in his career. He will likely make the necessary adjustments and continue his progress concurrent to the level of his play.
Although he also played some first base in the Fall League, Anderson has the skill and the demeanor to be a solid big league third baseman. I project his power to continue to increase. He should hit his share of doubles and home runs while playing quality third base. He is such a good athlete he can likely be better-than-average defensively at second base or even in the outfield. His versatility and athletic ability are very obvious.
Anderson reminds me somewhat of the St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter. Carpenter carries more weight on his frame, but both have that scrappy type of demeanor that translates to a winning player. Both play multiple positions and have excellent bat control and make solid contact.
Brian Anderson returned to the Arizona Fall League after playing in the league for Mesa last year as well. Last fall, he finished with a batting average of only .115 in his eight games played. This year’s version was a much more advanced and much better overall player than the one we saw briefly last fall.
Anderson is a good ballplayer. He isn’t flashy. He won’t win a batting title or a gold glove. He likely won’t win a Home Run Derby. But I do think he can be a solid contributor in the Marlins lineup. He is steady and consistent. I don’t see him losing his good hitting mechanics and falling into a lengthy slump. His measured swing and his quick hands, good eye-hand coordination and improved selectivity will keep him as a viable everyday starting third baseman at the big league level.
And if he is needed at another position, Anderson can answer the bell at several positions on the diamond.
The Marlins organization is not one that is loaded with position players. That’s one reason I believe Anderson has a very good chance to make a steady climb through a system that needs his ability to hit and play solid defense day in and day out.
If he could add a bit more strength to his tall, thin body, he could help himself withstand the high humidity of the hot, long summers he will face.
In my observations, Anderson’s ability exceeds that of a utility player. He has the skill to help his team in some manner as a regular in the Marlins starting lineup.
SCOUTING PHRASE FOR ANDERSON: A steady and competent multi-tooled third baseman.
SCOUTING GRADE FOR ANDERSON: 50 – An everyday player on a big league roster.
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