With the 18th pick of the 2013 MLB Draft, the Dodgers selected right-handed pitcher Chris Anderson out of Jacksonville University.
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Chris Anderson wasn’t ranked near 18th by the most respected publications, but because of the lack of clear-cut tiers in this year’s draft, it’s hard to say this was a reach.
MLB.com was most optimistic by ranking him 16th.
Scouting Grades* (present/future): Fastball: 6/6 | Curve: 5/6 | Slider: 5/5 | Changeup: 4/5 | Control: 5/6 | Overall: 5/6
There might not have been another college arm who shot up Draft boards more than this Jacksonville University ace during the spring. His rise slowed a bit with some struggles, perhaps caused by fatigue, in April. But he still has the size, stuff and command to potentially be a frontline starter at the highest level.
Anderson’s fastball will touch 97 mph and is consistently at least above average with good sink. He throws a nasty slider, and his changeup projects to be a legitimate weapon as well.
Anderson has above-average control and command and the ideal athletic frame scouts love to see in a pitcher. There’s room for gaining strength, which gives him a high ceiling as well.
Baseball Prospectus ranked him 27th.
Anderson was a virtual unknown coming out of a Minnesota high school in 2010 and hardly raised his profile during his first two years at Jacksonville. He began to attract scout’s attention last summer in the Cape Cod League and vaulted into first round status early this spring when his fastball was topping out at 96 mph to go with a present plus slider. Anderson’s past few starts have been a bit rough, taking a bit of the shine as a possible top half of the first round candidate off, but he seems like a secure bet to be the first Florida based player off the board.
Baseball America had him at 45.
Big and physical at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Anderson should give Jacksonville its first-ever first-round pick. Like the Dolphins’ third-round product of 2012, outfielder Adam Brett Walker, Anderson is a Minnesota prep product, and he’s evolved from the team’s closer as a freshman to its Friday ace as a junior. His performance has improved significantly through his college career, as he has boosted his strikeouts, cut his walks and become more consistent across the board. Early in the season, under a heavy workload, Anderson showed scouts a front-of-the-rotation fastball, pitching downhill and touching 96 mph. He’s usually in the 90-94 mph range, holds his velocity and throws strikes. He got strikeouts early both with the fastball and slider, which flashed plus. He also throws a much-improved changeup. Anderson generates velocity more from strength than arm speed, and most scouts see him as an innings-eater in the middle of a rotation. His timing helps, as a consensus starter in a year short on college arms.
From Minor League Ball, Matt Garrioch ranked him 25th, and John Sickels ranked him as the 13th best pitcher.
ESPN (Keith Law) ranked him 25th.
Anderson came out of the chute strong this year, hitting 95 frequently and showing a plus slider that made him look like a certain top-15 pick. However, heavy usage by Jacksonville began to wear him down in early April and he couldn’t maintain his stuff deep into the spring.
He was 90-95 earlier in the year and 89-93 later, showing below-average command and allowing more hard contact as the season went on. His 82-85 slider remained sharp, breaking hard down and away from right-handed hitters, with Anderson showing enough control of it to generate chase swings. His changeup is solid-average at 81-84 with a little tailing action, and he has a curveball that he should probably junk when he gets to pro ball.
He’s a big, physical kid, with strong legs and a good delivery that makes some use of his legs, including a long stride and early pronation of the pitching arm. He’s a little young for the class, turning 21 two weeks after the signing deadline in July.
I happened to see one of his worst starts, where he showed a lack of poise on the mound as well, which is hard for me to erase from my mind but could have been a one-time event. I prefer several other college right-handers but the potential for two plus pitches could get him into the middle of the first round.
Additionally, our own Dustin Nosler had him 13th on his big board of realistic Dodger picks.
I have to be honest and say I’m not all that familiar with Chris Anderson. Of all the research I did on potential prospects leading up to the draft, he wasn’t one of the guys that was necessarily on the radar of the Dodgers, as evidenced by the low priority he was given by Dustin.
I’m surprised the team went with a college arm over a high school guy like Ian Clarkin, who they had been connected to leading up to the draft. However, it’s hard to complain about a guy with three legit pitches who can touch the upper portion of mid-90s.
As a college junior, he has leverage in negotiations, but there haven’t been any whispers about signability problems, especially with him being taken at this slot. He should get to Los Angeles sooner than later, which may have been a factor in his selection.