Oakland A's Prospect Profile: Brett Anderson

On Friday, the Oakland A's sent their top starter, Dan Haren, and a minor league relief prospect, Connor Robertson, to the Arizona Diamondbacks for a package of six prospects. Over the next several days, OaklandClubhouse.com will be taking a closer look at the six players that the A's acquired. We continue with a profile of highly touted left-hander Brett Anderson.

Name: Brett Anderson
DOB: 02/01/88
H/W: 6'4''/ 215 LB

Anderson was an AFLAC All-American in high school.
After a standout high school career in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Brett Anderson was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second round of the 2006 amateur draft. The son of Oklahoma State head coach Frank Anderson, the younger Anderson chose to sign with the Diamondbacks for a reported $950,000 bonus plus $80,000 towards his college education rather than play at OSU.

Anderson signed too late to pitcher for the Diamondbacks in 2006, but Arizona didn't hesitate to send him to a full-season affiliate at the start of 2007 despite not having competed in short-season ball. The left-hander was the Opening Day starter for the South Bend Silver Hawks and he turned in one of the best seasons of any hurler in the Midwest League. In 14 starts with South Bend, Anderson went 8-4 with a 2.21 ERA. He allowed only 86 base-runners in 81 innings and gave-up only three homeruns. Anderson also turned in a strong K:BB ratio, striking out 85 and walking only 10.

The 19-year-old was named as a mid-season Midwest League All-Star and was then promoted to High-A Visalia soon after the All-Star game. Not surprisingly, Anderson's ERA jumped some in the hitter-friendly California League environment. In nine starts with the Oaks, Anderson had a 3-3 record and a 4.85 ERA. He allowed a lot of hits (50 in 39 innings) and homeruns (6), but he maintained a strong K:BB ratio (nearly 4:1).

His season was interrupted in late July when he and six of his teammates were involved in a scary car accident. He sustained a concussion in the accident and threw only four more innings the rest of the season. Despite the interruption, Anderson was able to get a good amount of innings in this season. Between Low-A and High-A, Anderson struck out 125 and walked only 21 and had a 3.07 ERA in 120 innings.

Scouting Report
Anderson dominated the Midwest League.
When asked about Anderson, most scouts and coaches are struck by his maturity. Despite being only 19, Anderson showed an advanced understanding of how to pitch. He was often able to work deep into games because he was economical with his pitches, a skill that many young pitchers take years to develop. He also worked both sides of the plate well and wasn't afraid to challenge right-handed hitters on the inside half of the plate.

Anderson's father Frank is renowned for developing top-notch collegiate pitchers, so in many respects, his game is reflective of collegiate experience despite never having played college ball. He has four solid pitches – a low-90s fastball that he maintains late into games, a slow, overhand curveball that has a big break, a power slurve that is somewhere between a curveball and a slider, and a developing change-up that should improve in the A's system, where change-ups are heavily emphasized.

At 6'4'', Anderson has a starter's build. He has a clean, easy delivery that helps him maintain his release point throughout the game. Anderson is still learning some of the nuances of fielding the pitching position, but that should improve over time.

In many ways, Anderson is a left-handed version of A's 2006 second round pick Trevor Cahill. He doesn't throw quite as hard as Cahill, but he is a little more advanced in terms of throwing strikes and minimizing his pitch counts at this point in his career. Cahill figures to start his 2008 season with Stockton in the California League, and Anderson may join him in the Ports' rotation, as he only had 39 innings at High-A in 2007. However, if Anderson is dominating during spring training, the A's may choose to challenge him at Double-A Midland right off of the bat. He has a good chance of seeing time in Midland in 2008 regardless of whether he starts his season there or not.

Anderson will be 20 years old throughout the 2008 season, so he has plenty of time to develop. However, with his advanced pitching repertoire and his maturity, Anderson may be on the fast path to the major leagues. The A's won't rush him, given that their rebuilding timetable is likely to run through 2010, but they won't hold him back if he looks ready for the next step. He profiles as a solid number two or three starter in the major leagues and could develop into a number one if he grows into his frame and adds a few more miles per hour onto his low-90s fastball.

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