Tyler Anderson was the South Atlantic League's 2012 leader in ERA (2.47) and WHIP (1.08). The southpaw had a 12-3 record and walked only 28 batters in 120 innings.
Not too bad considering he had a sports hernia for much of the season with the Asheville Tourists, the Colorado Rockies' Class A affiliate.
"The one place it didn't affect me was on the mound," said Anderson, a 6-foot-4 left-hander who played at Spring Valley High School in Las Vegas before going to the University of Oregon. "The way it affected me was that it altered my conditioning and weight training."
Anderson was selected by Colorado in the first round (20th overall) of the 2011 Draft. He's maintained his momentum from last season and pitched well for the Modesto Nuts in his first three starts this year, though he he's yet to earn a decision. He has a 2.08 ERA, striking out 16 and walking five in 17 1/3 innings.
Anderson, who turned 23 on Dec. 30, pitched 5 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball in his second start of the season, scattering four hits and a walk at Rancho Cucamonga. He threw 89 pitches, including 59 strikes. What was somewhat different than Anderson's typical start was that he started 15 of the 23 batters he faced with ball one and went to a number of three-ball counts.
"That was out of character for me," Anderson said. "I just kept trying to go back and go after the hitter. My command wasn't as strong as usual."
On Opening Night against the Inland Empire 66ers, Anderson started strong, retiring his first 10 batters, and recovered well after yielding three earned runs in the fourth inning. The resilience made a positive impression on Nuts manager Lenn Sakata, who played as an infielder in the Major Leagues for 11 years.
"He is very competitive and very impressive at this juncture in his career," said Sakata, who earned a World Series ring in 1983 with the Baltimore Orioles. "His fastball is better than I was led to believe. He is sneaky fast, and he has a lot of poise and game awareness."
MLB.com ranks Anderson No. 6 among Colorado Rockies prospects, and Sakata said he can get four pitches over for strikes. Against Rancho Cucamonga, the scoreboard pitch tracker indicated Anderson reached 91 mph. Only a few balls were hit hard, and batters were late on his pitches, fouling many back to the screen or in foul territory on the opposite side.
Anderson said he studies the mental side of baseball. When asked about that, he took a book from his bag titled The Mental ABCs of Pitching: A Handbook for Performance Enhancement by Harvey A. Dorfman. Dorfman, who worked as a consultant on the Major League level before passing away in 2011, wrote several books on performance improvement for players as well as coaches.
Sneed fills need: Kramer Sneed, a lefty from North Carolina, is quickly making a name for himself in the Los Angeles Angels system. In two starts, he has struck out 12 batters in 10 2/3 innings while allowing only four hits, earning a win against Lake Elsinore on April 12. That was one more win than Sneed notched in 2012 with the Tampa Yankees. Acquired in the trade that sent Vernon Wells to the Yankees, Sneed had an 0-7 record and had a 5.37 ERA while walking 40 batters in 63 2/3 innings.
Mighty Muncy: A fifth-round pick by the Oakland Athletics, Maxwell Muncy hit four home runs in 64 games with Burlington during the 2012 Midwest League campaign. A left-handed hitting first baseman for Stockton, Muncy surpassed that total in eight games for Oakland's California League affiliate. He hit his fifth home run against Bakersfield on April 12, and his batting average is .333 with an OPS of 1.167.
The way to San Jose? Look up: The San Jose Giants are seeking to make the California League playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. The team won the California League crown in 2009 and 2010. San Jose leads the North Division after Monday's 12-6 victory over the Stockton Ports. Ryan Cavan, a second baseman from UC Santa Barbara, has a .340 batting average and nine RBIs, while Ty Blach from Creighton has won his first two starts with a 1.64 ERA.