Brett Anderson's promotion to the Visalia Oaks at the A-Ball All-Star break was very deserved, although a little surprising. Anderson had gone 8-4 with a 2.21 ERA for the South Bend Silver Hawks and was second in the Midwest League with 85 strikeouts and with an 8.5 K/BB ratio. Still, the big lefty got promoted before several players who are more than four years older than he is.
"Being so young, I thought they might keep me [in South Bend]," Anderson told us. "I've been throwing pretty well, and I was really excited when I heard it."
There certainly wasn't any bitterness about his promotion among his teammates in South Bend. To a man, they were in awe of not only Anderson's talent, but the way that he conducted himself on and off the field.
"He's looked outstanding." -- South Bend pitching coach Wellington Cepeda
"That kid's just phenomenal." -- 23-year old Silver Hawks pitcher Tony Barnette, without any prompting
"He pitches at a much higher level than his age and experience in pro ball would show." -- Frank Curreri, who has caught Anderson at both South Bend and Visalia
How do the Silver Hawks replace someone like Anderson?
"You don't," remarks Silver Hawks outfielder Joey Side. "Even though he's only 19, you can't replace him."
But as much as the Silver Hawks benefited from Anderson's work on the mound, so too has Anderson benefited from a professional environment.
"The routines have come down to a science now," Anderson explained, the work repetitions helping him become more comfortable in pro ball.
Even though most everything has come easily to Anderson, there are still some difficult adjustments that he has made from pitching in high school.
"Facing teams multiple times has been the toughest thing so far," Anderson decided. "In high school, you hardly ever face the same team more than one time. I've faced Great Lakes three times now, and [am] getting used to getting the same hitters out over and over again."
The other major difference from high school is the workload. Anderson has already pitched a career high in innings this year. He says he was generally kept within the 85-95 pitch range at South Bend, but the organization appears more cautious with him in the second half. Anderson went just four innings in his Oaks debut despite allowing just six base runners and one run.
"It's a lot of innings, but so far it's been all right," said Anderson of his workload. "We'll see how it is in California. Throwing this many innings is definitely different than in high school. But so far, so good."
"He's a durable kid," one scout told us at the Midwest League All-Star game. "He's a 26-year old in a 19-year old's body. I just wonder how well his stuff will play at higher levels."
We're beginning to find out.
Email Keith Glab at email@example.com