After a stellar 2012 campaign with Class A Asheville during which he went 12-3 with a 2.47 ERA while pitching with a sports hernia, Tyler Anderson received an unexpected call to join the Rockies' big league camp at Spring Training. He didn't stick for long, but in his short stay he keenly watched the habits of the Major League hurlers, particularly Jeff Francis.
"We're pretty similar types of pitchers in that we're not trying to blow it by batters," he said. "Obviously, I'm nowhere near the level he's at, though. He's a veteran that's had success for almost 10 years. So I tried to understand what helps him produce results, and seeing him attack the zone early, that's something I've tried to emulate."
Now Anderson has brought those lessons to the California League with Class A Advanced Modesto, and on Monday, they produced a gem of an outing.
The Rockies' No. 6 prospect allowed just two hits, struck out six and didn't issue a walk over six scoreless innings. He did not factor into the decision as the Nuts topped the Bakersfield Blaze, 4-3, in 10 innings.
His line was a direct result of the 22-year-old left-hander's ability to combine lessons from the spring with those learned this week.
"We've seen this team for three days in a row, now going on a fourth after tonight," said Anderson (0-1), who used a mix of a two-seamer, a cutter and his trademark changeup. "So our catcher [Ryan Casteel] had a pretty good idea about how to deal with these guys. … We just had to attack them early because they've shown themselves to be pretty aggressive. If we could force early contact and get them to swing early, we'd be pretty successful."
The former Oregon star's ERA dropped to 3.18 after the scoreless outing, his second through seven Cal League starts. His 36 strikeouts rank tied for seventh on the circuit over that span, while his 1.08 WHIP places him at eighth. Solid enough numbers to be sure, but they didn't lead to his first win of the 2013 season.
As difficult as it may be to see only a zero in the wins column for now, Anderson downplayed any frustration the goose egg may bring on.
"You can't control everything else that's going on," he said. "All you can do as a pitcher is do your best to help the team win You know the other eight guys are battling just hard, and you have to do the same for them. Everyone struggles, just like you struggle. Still it was a good win for the team. It was the first we've had in one of my starts, so that's great for everyone."
But don't expect the 6-foot-4 southpaw to be completely content with where he has after seven starts. He's been with Major Leaguers before, but there is still much work to be done before he can stand side by side with them again.
"I wouldn't say I've been super successful so far," he said. "I've walked more guys [10 thus far] than I would've liked, and there have been balls that I left up in the zone. There's always time to make adjustments after every outing, and that's what I'm doing. It's still a work in progress."
Will Swanner hit a walk-off double to drive in Harold Riggins give the Nuts the win Monday. The designated hitter finished 2-for-4 with a walk.