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White Sox Add Anderson to Outfield Mix
June 4, 2003
For the Chicago White Sox, center field has pretty much been a year-to-year proposition since the end of the Lance Johnson era. They have one possible solution in Joe Borchard but moved to add another one by selecting University of Arizona center fielder Brian Anderson in the first round of the 2003 draft.
"He's a player we hope is able to fulfill his potential because he has five tools," scouting director Doug Laumann said. "Brian's a very gifted athlete. He's shown he has the ability to hit for power, he runs real well and he has very good arm strength.'
Anderson hit .366-14-62 in 57 games for Arizona. He stole 17 bases and had a .425 on-base average while helping the Wildcats reach the NCAA Regionals. He is 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and bats righthanded.
Anderson wasn't surprised to be drafted by the White Sox because area scout John Kazanas has been a regular at his games this season.
"I couldn't be more excited," Anderson said. "I knew the White Sox were on me strong. I'm really lost for words. I'm looking forward to helping this organization."
Because the Sox train in Tucson, Laumann estimates that as many as 16 members of the Sox's scouting and player development staff watched Anderson play. He became a clear choice with his play late in the season. His confidence soared along with his draft status.
"Out of high school, I think I would have been a little overmatched at the plate," said Anderson. "At Arizona I became a better baseball player. I think I'm ready now to be a professional baseball player."
Although he'll be a center fielder, Anderson had enough ability to be scouted as a pitcher as well. During his college career, he was sometimes used as a relief pitcher.
"He pitched at 91, 92 [mph] at times," Laumann said. "We don't plan on using him on the mound. But we feel that with his power, his running and his arm strength, he has a chance to be a championship center fielder."
Anderson hopes he can pay quick dividends for the White Sox.
"I've set personal goals for myself," he said. "If I had a choice, I'd want to go straight to the big leagues but obviously you have to pay your dues."
Laumann praised the work of Kazanas, who stayed on the job this spring after his wife lost her fight with cancer last month. Christine Kazanas was diagnosed with cancer in 2002.
"John's a family man, with kids," Laumann said. "It was a tragedy that happened. He battled it all year. He didn't want any help, didn't want any extra consideration from the organization even though Mr. (Jerry) Reinsdorf and the organization did everything they could. I just have a ton of respect for John. He was extremely professional, fulfilled all his commitments. He did a tremendous job."
After stockpiled pitching in recent years, the White Sox spent six of their first 10 picks on position players. Their second pick was outfielder Ryan Sweeney, a power hitter from Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They also took Clinton King, a record-setting power hitter for Southern Mississippi, in the third round.
While the White Sox took 11 position players and nine pitchers during the first day of the draft, the top four picks were all position players.
"This year we decided to lean a little more to position players," Laumann said. "We feel our minor leagues have quite a few pitchers down there. But we didn't really have that impact, power player down there."