One week ago, Marty Anderson was pitching for the Florence Freedom in the independent Frontier League. On Friday night, he dominated for Class A Short Season Brooklyn in his affiliated Minor League debut.
The Mets' prospect struck out 10 over four innings of one-hit relief in the Cyclones' 4-3 loss to Staten Island at MCU Park. Anderson recorded seven consecutive outs via strikeout as he threw 37 strikes among 63 pitches.
Gameday box score
"My expectations were just to do what I was doing in the Frontier League because every outing was successful for me and I wanted to take that to the Minors," the 24-year-old left-hander said. "Once I got my foot in the door, I wanted to make sure I enhanced everything and made them use their bats."
Anderson replaced Jose Carlos Medina to start the sixth with Brooklyn trailing, 4-0. Leonardo Molina led off with a single to left before catcher Scott Manea picked him off at first. Anderson struck out four of the next five batters with Cody Brown's groundout to first in the seventh representing the only contact for the Yankees.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder struck out the side in the eighth before walking Molina to start the ninth. Anderson proceeded to fan the next three batters he faced. All in all, the final seven batters he retired were by way of the strikeout.
"The zone in the Frontier League was a little bit tighter and that helped me; I noticed it's wider here in short-season," Anderson said. "I just stayed in the lower half of the zone and the umpire was giving me good calls, so I gained momentum off that. They weren't seeing pitches well and I kept all my off-speed pitches down, and when I needed to I flipped the curve in for a strike and that set them all up.
"And the fans, for sure, definitely brought me up. When the fans got loud it drove me to throw more strikes and make them use the bat."
Playing in front of a crowd of 5,002 was new for Anderson, as the Freedom drew between 2,000 and 3,000 fans "at most," according to the newest Cyclone. He played with the Garden City [Kansas] Wind in the independent Pecos League before that, who he said drew "around 300-500 fans at the most."
The road to affiliated baseball was a long one for Anderson, who attended Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia, after graduating high school. With his grades slipping and his velocity down, Anderson made the decision to leave school and joined the Quincy Dodgers, a men's league team in Florida.
"I wanted to practice in men's league against bigger men, and they were older and more experienced hitters," Anderson said. "My first time out there they hit me around and I just adjusted to it and that's what got me here."
Anderson tried going back to school at Chipola College in Florida. He left after the fall of 2013 due to differences between him and the coach. He looked up independent teams online, found the Wind and headed to Atlanta for a tryout.
After being promoted to the Frontier League and subsequently released, the Bainbridge, Georgia, native went to Florence's Spring Training this year and made the rotation. He went 6-2 with a 2.95 ERA in 10 appearances -- eight starts -- before the Mets signed him Saturday and added him to Brooklyn's roster Sunday.
"It was probably about my second or third outing in the starting rotation, I got my first win, my second win and I went 5-0 and just kept getting wins and having a low ERA with good run support," Anderson said. "The pitching coach [Bryan White] said, 'Keep pitching the way you are and you'll possibly get picked up, so keep doing what you're doing,' and I got lucky.
"Head coach [Dennis Pelfrey] called me and I knew I made the All-Star team for the Frontier League, which was pretty big for me in my first year in legit pro ball. He said I need you for a few things; I thought it was for the All-Star break, but it was actually for the contract for the New York Mets."
Despite Anderson's dominant debut, the Cyclones couldn't battle back from the early deficit. Mets No. 17 prospect Ricardo Cespedes had a two-run single in the sixth to close the scoring.
Starter Daniel Alvarez (1-0) matched a career high with eight strikeouts and allowed three runs on three hits with a walk over 5 1/3 innings for Staten Island.