Seattle Mariners Top 10 Prospects
Index of Top 10 Prospects for all 30 Major League Teams
By Jim Callis
1. Ryan Anderson, lhp
Age: 22. B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-10. Wt.: 215. Drafted: HSDearborn, Mich., 1997 (1st round). Signed by: Ken Madeja.
Background: Anderson has ranked No. 1 on this list for five consecutive seasons. He didnt figure to be eligible again because he was expected to lose his rookie status in 2001. But while the games other star lefthander prospect, C.C. Sabathia, won 17 games for Cleveland, Anderson didnt take the mound during the regular season. He couldnt get loose during a spring workout and doctors diagnosed a torn labrum, requiring shoulder surgery that kept him out until instructional league. It was a blow to an organization that had just lost another rotation candidate, Gil Meche, to a similar injury the month before.
Strengths: Few players can match Andersons ceiling. The only lefthander in baseball whos more intimidating is Randy Johnson, to whom hes often compared. Anderson isnt nicknamed "Little Unit" for nothing. He has a 94-97 mph fastball that he has used to average 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings as a pro. He was refining his slider into a plus pitch and developing his changeup before he got hurt. He also had improved his command each season. With his stuff, theres no question Anderson can become a legitimate No. 1 starter. He should be stronger than ever once his rehabilitation is complete.
Weaknesses: Andersons latest step was to throw in the bullpen in instructional league, so he still has not come all the way back. His career record is just 20-26 because hes never put together an extended run of dominance. Anderson still has to improve his secondary pitches and control, though he did hold his own in Triple-A before he reached the legal drinking age. Lefthanders shouldnt stand a chance against him, but theyve hit .329 off him since he reached Double-A.
The Future: The Mariners arent going to take any chances with Anderson. Hell report early to spring training. He wont be in the running for a rotation spot and may open the year in Double-A San Antonio, where the climate is warmer than in Triple-A Tacoma. Hell be kept on tight pitch counts wherever he goes. His future is still bright, though he wont have much if any major league impact before 2003.
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