In the beginning of 2017 Justin Anderson, a Los Angeles Angels pitching prospect, was pitching for Single-A Inland Empire. Now early in the 2018 season Anderson is pitching in the major leagues for the Angels.
When the Los Angeles Angels drafted Justin Anderson in the 14th round of the June 2014 amateur draft they were hoping that he could be something special. However, in three full seasons in the minors Anderson’s numbers were anything but special. The Houston, Texas native went 21-27 with a 4.80 ERA in mostly Single-A starts.
Anderson was used exclusively as a starter over his first three years in the minors. However, the Angels decided to convert Anderson and his high 90’s fastball to a reliever, but his numbers did not improve, but the Angels saw something special and this year Anderson finally put it altogether. In six games in Mobile for the Bay Bears pitching 8.2 innings allowing only two hits with 14 strikeouts with a 0.46 WHIP.
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So the Angels went out on a limb when they were looking for bullpen help going into the series against the World Champion Astros last week, so they called up Anderson from Double-A to the Angels. Since that time Anderson has pitched very well out of the bullpen helping the Angels close out two victories against the Astros. He also pitched well against the Yankees in two outings giving the Angels a chance to win both the first and third games of the series.
In four outings Anderson has pitched 4.1 innings giving up three hits but allowing no runs and striking out six batters. Anderson is allowing a .188 opponents batting average. In one week Anderson has gone from a Double-A reliever trying to move up to Triple-A, but instead has been become one of Mike Scioscia’s go to guys out of the bullpen which has been huge for the Angels.
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When Anderson was in Single-A Inland Empire toward the end of the 2016 season, I had to chance to interview him and was very impressed with his confidence and overall demeanor. So far in watching Anderson pitch in these high leverage situations over the past week against the AL’s best two teams from 2017 the Astros and the Yankees I have seen that same confidence and fearlessness that usually is only reserved for veterans with loads of experience.
Anderson has been able to harness his 98 mile per hour fastball and also command a nasty mid-80’s slider that has been his go to pitch against such guys like Carlos Correa, George Springer, Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius, and Giancarlo Stanton all of which Anderson had to retire in his four outings.
The sky is the limit for this young Texas flame-thrower. Hopefully he will be able to continue to do so, but this will depend on how successful Anderson will continue to be. Only time will tell.