For Brian Anderson, the last few months have been a whirlwind full of firsts and opportunities. The third-rated prospect in the Miami Marlins system according to MLB.com, Anderson began the year with his first invitation to Marlins' Spring Training and then opened the season with Double-A Jacksonville.
"Going into the season I finally got a chance to go to my first big league Spring Training and that was really exciting. I learned so much and got to be around some of the big league guys and see how they operate," Anderson said. "I never thought this is how my season would go."
The 2014 third-round draft pick was no stranger to playing in Jacksonville as he spent half of the 2016 campaign in the Southern League. After hitting .302 in April and May with Single-A Jupiter, Anderson was promoted and went on to finish with a combined 21 doubles, three triples, 11 home runs and 65 RBI in 135 games en route to Marlins Minor League Player of the Year honors.
He finished strong with Jacksonville, posting a .279 batting average with five homers and 18 RBI in August, and won the league's Player of the Week award for August 15-21.
Anderson has increased his productivity in 2017 by hitting .251 with 14 doubles, 14 home runs and 55 RBI in 87 games with Jacksonville. Those numbers earned Anderson a spot in both the Southern League All-Star Game and the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game played in Marlins Park.
He gave Marlins fans a glimpse of things to come by collecting two hits in the Futures Game, which featured 27 players from MLBPipeline.com's list of the top 100 prospects.
"That was an incredible experience and I am very thankful to the Marlins for selecting me for that and the opportunity to go to the game. I took every advantage and had as much fun as I possibly could. It's been a crazy past couple of months," Anderson said.
It got even crazier for Anderson as he was promoted to the Triple-A level for the first time in his career on July 15, when the Baby Cakes just happened to be playing in Oklahoma City, a short drive from where he grew up in Edmund.
Coming off the bench that night, he smacked the first pitch he saw back up the middle for a go-ahead two-run single to lift the 'Cakes to a 4-3 win over the Dodgers. The following night in his first start, Anderson deposited the first pitch from Triple-A All-Star Wilmer Font over the left field fence for a home run.
"That was a great experience to play in Oklahoma City, having my mom and girlfriend there was incredible. Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark was a place I had gone and watched guys play way back in the day when I was five to ten years old and I never got to play on that field," Anderson said.
Since his debut, Anderson has a hit in 10 of his first 11 Triple-A games, batting .350 with two home runs and seven RBI. Anderson's 16 total home runs this season places him one ahead of former Jacksonville teammate John Norwood for tops among Marlins farmhands. He also leads the organization with 62 RBI.
"I've gotten off to a good start, learning from everyone in the locker room, I've really enjoyed my time here so far with all of the guys," Anderson said. "It definitely makes you realize that you are one step away from competing at the highest level."
Anderson said that even though there are quality arms wherever you go in the minor leagues, the challenge goes up a notch as you progress to the next level.
"A lot of the guys up here have more of a finesse approach to get guys out. They might not have overpowering stuff but the starters have cutters, two-seams that work both sides of the plate, they don't throw anything over the middle and the bullpens are a little more consistent," Anderson said.
"It's the same game, just at a new place, so I've tried to take it one day at a time and go out there and do what I do and stick to my approach and let things work themselves out."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.