Fire Frogs' Anderson spins five one-hit innings

Braves No. 5 prospect posts five strikeouts, follows Wentz's lead

Ian Anderson averaged 11 strikeouts per nine innings in 20 South Atlantic League starts last season. (Chris Robertson/KZONE Images)

By Chris Bumbaca / MiLB.com | April 15, 2018 1:10 AM

Joey Wentz set the bar and Ian Anderson matched it.

One night after Wentz, Atlanta's No. 10 prospectallowed one hit over five scoreless innings, Anderson did the same. He issued three walks and recorded five strikeouts before Class A Advanced Florida dropped a 6-5, 10-inning decision at Palm Beach.

Anderson, the Braves' fifth-ranked prospect, did not give up a hit until Cardinals catcher Jose Godoy singled on a ground ball to right field with two outs in the fifth. Anderson quickly rebounded and induced his fifth groundout of the night to end the inning and his outing.


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Despite pitching one clean inning, the 19-year-old was unfazed by working with baserunners. Anderson struck out the side in the fourth and let just one Cardinal advance past first base. Two of his free passes came after the 2016 first-round pick retired the first two batters of the inning.

"Just had to make a couple more pitches to get through the inning," Anderson said. "I think that was another big part of it, was getting early outs. And even if I did let the guy get on, I was able to make a few pitches and work it out."

With several righties in the Cardinals' lineup, the right-hander leaned on his curveball over the changeup as an out pitch. But what carried him was his fastball, he said. He threw 48 of 78 pitches for strikes in his second start of the season.

Atlanta's Minor League staff stresses the importance of getting ahead in the count, something he did against 13 of 19 batters Saturday night. The biggest takeaway from the start, he said, is the importance of throwing first-pitch strikes and cutting down on two-out walks.

"I feel really comfortable so far on the mound this year," the 6-foot-3, 170-pound prospect said. "It's all coming from the confidence I'm getting from commanding my fastball. I don't think I've ever been able to command it this well. That was one of the things I kind of set out to work on during the offseason and Spring Training. That's been a key for me."

The Clifton Park, New York, native gave up three earned runs on two hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings in his 2018 debut against Fort Myers on Monday.

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"I hate giving up runs early on in the season, obviously," he said. "It was definitely a good outing, to come back and pitch well."

Watching Wentz put together a strong outing provided Anderson with a clear goal when he arrived at the ballpark Saturday. The two have built a bond while advancing through three levels of the Minors together. Anderson also mentioned the he has learned from two fellow 2016 Draft picks -- Fire Frogs right-hander Bryse Wilson and Class A Rome left-hander Kyle Muller.

"It's awesome," Anderson said. "The whole pitching staff, we have a bunch of guys that can go out there and throw up some zeros. ... It's fun to go out there every outing and compete not only against the other team but have some personal pride and compete against your own pitchers. It's something that we all think about and focus on. It's just great, friendly competition."

Braves No. 24 prospect Brett Cumberland went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and an RBI, while ninth-ranked Cristian Pache had two hits, drove in one run and scored another.

Kramer Robertson scored the winning run in the 10th when Florida reliever Sean McLaughlin uncorked a wild pitch.

Chris Bumbaca is a contributor for MiLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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