- Full name Joshua Aaron Anderson
- Born 08/10/1982 in Somerset, KY
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 195 / Bats: L / Throws: R
- School Eastern Kentucky
- Debut 09/02/2007
Drafted in the 4th round (119th overall) by the Houston Astros in 2003 (signed for $265,000).
View Draft ReportAnderson was among national leaders in batting average (.438) and stolen bases (44) and has always suffered from a lack of exposure. He was primarily a basketball player in high school and wasn't recruited to play baseball. He also played in the Ohio Valley Conference and didn't play in high-profile summer competition. Speed is his best tool. He's been clocked at 6.4 seconds over 60 yards and can track balls with the best in center field. His arm is average, and he's one of the few players who can throw almost equally well with either arm. Scouts aren't sold on his bat and he lacks the power to play on a corner. Some see him as just a fourth outfielder, and they might think he had more potential if they'd seen him succeed on a bigger stage.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After deciding they wouldn't negotiate with free agent Andruw Jones, who had been their center fielder since late 1996, the Braves had no obvious replacement for 2008. Jordan Schafer and Gorkys Hernandez are two of the more talented center-field prospects in the minors but neither figures to be ready to step in this year. Enter Anderson, who came to Atlanta in a November deal that sent Oscar Villareal to Houston. Though Anderson led the minors with 78 steals in 2004, topped the Double-A Texas League with 50 swipes in 2005 and 43 in 2006, and hit .358 after his callup last September, the Astros never believed Anderson was an everyday player. His speed has slipped, though it's still above-average, and he doesn't drive the ball very often. He'll have to prove he won't be overpowered by quality pitching, and he needs to improve his on-base skills and bunting ability so he can get on base more often. Anderson's speed allows him to outrun his mistakes in center field, but he still makes too many goofs. He led Triple-A Pacific Coast League outfielders with seven errors in 2007. His arm is playable and accurate in center. Anderson may be nothing more than a one-year bridge between Jones and Schafer, but the Braves will give him the opportunity to win a starting job in spring training.
Anderson led the minors in steals in 2004 and the Texas League in each of the last two years, but he's still trying to prove he can do more than run wild on the bases. He repeated Double-A and put up essentially the same numbers as the season before. Managers rated Anderson the Texas League's best and fastest baserunner, and his speed rates at least a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He also uses his quickness well in center field, where he did a better job reading fly balls last year. The key for Anderson will be producing at the plate. He's a slightly below-average hitter--his speed allows him to beat out infield hits and pump up his average--with well-below-average power, so he must focus on getting on base. But his plate discipline has regressed during his two years in Double-A, and his bunting needs work as well. Anderson tried to get his hands in position earlier in 2006, which would allow him to fend off inside fastballs better, but the results weren't noticeable. His biggest improvement came against lefthanders, as he hit .354 off them after they held him to a .210 average in 2005. He has a playable, accurate arm and did a better job of hitting the cutoff man last year. He's similar to Willy Taveras, who was traded to the Rockies in December. But Anderson is a lesser defender, and he'll play in Triple-A this year rather than take over for Taveras.
Anderson led the minors in stolen bases in 2004 and topped the Texas League in 2005, but he needs to show more well-rounded offensive skills if he's to be a big league regular. Since he tore up low Class A at the beginning of 2004, his hitting, gap power and plate discipline have regressed at higher levels. He has leadoff speed but must develop the on-base ability to match. He doesn't need to worry about hitting home runs, but driving a few balls in the gaps and being able to fight off inside fastballs would keep pitchers more honest. Managers rated Anderson the fastest baserunner and the best defensive outfielder in the Texas League, though he could use more polish in both areas. He was caught stealing 19 times last year and sometimes tries to swipe bags in less-than-opportune situations. He doesn't always read line drives well and relies on his speed to make up for his mistakes. His arm is average. He has upside and more pop than Astros incumbent Willy Taveras, though he's not as refined, as fast or as gifted defensively. Anderson needs to tone down his aggressiveness in every aspect of the game and enhance what he does best. After a strong Arizona Fall League performance, he'll move up to Triple-A in 2006.
Anderson led NCAA Division I in 2003 with 57 steals and finished third in hitting at .447 behind first-round picks Rickie Weeks and Mitch Maier. He has swiped 105 bases in 213 games and topped the minors with 79 last year. Anderson has plus-plus speed and knows how to use it. He has succeeded on 83 percent of his pro steal attempts, and he also covers a lot of ground in center field. He's similar to Willy Taveras, with Anderson owning significantly more gap power. He has solid average arm strength. Anderson's full-tilt style borders on recklessness. He's too aggressive in the outfield, often breaking wrong on balls and hoping his speed will help him recover. He tore up low Class A, but was far less effective when his plate discipline evaporated following a promotion to high Class A. Taveras is the frontrunner to be Houston's center fielder of the future, but Anderson can close the gap if he learns to play within himself and show more patience at the plate. He'll probably open 2005 in Double-A.
Speed was the system's biggest deficiency entering 2003, and the Astros addressed that in June by drafting Anderson in the fourth round and Jeff Jorgensen in the seventh. Jorgensen, who missed the summer with a broken foot that kept him out of the College World Series with Rice, is faster. But Anderson is nearly as quick--he can go from the left side of the plate to first base in 3.95-4.0 seconds--plus he's stronger and more polished. He led NCAA Division I with 57 steals in 65 attempts at Eastern Kentucky last spring, and he finished third in hitting behind first-round picks Rickie Weeks (Brewers) and Mitch Maier (Royals) at .447. While some scouts viewed Anderson as having questionable power and no more than fourth-outfielder potential, Houston loves his tools across the board. He made a surprisingly quick adjustment to wood bats. The Astros say he'll be a dangerous stolen base threat while hitting for respectable power. Anderson covers a lot of ground and gets good jumps in center field. He also has a strong arm and can throw nearly as well lefthanded as righthanded. Houston officials describe him as an untamed stallion who can get too reckless in the field and on the bases. A more patient approach at the plate also would benefit him, as would shortening his swing and improving his bunting. After earning New York-Penn League all-star recognition in his pro debut, Anderson likely will begin 2004 in low Class A.
Minor League Top Prospects
The Astros found a speedy center fielder this year in Willy Taveras, and they have another one coming up through the system in Anderson, who edged out Aybar for the league lead in steals. Anderson is a speed player who understands that his legs are his game. He can manipulate the infield with his bat, as any ball hit on the ground could turn into a potential hit. He also has more power potential than Taveras, though he'll never be more than a gap-to-gap hitter. He's a true center fielder who can play shallow and gets great jumps on balls. Anderson will need to refine his approach to become a legitimate leadoff man, as he currently strikes out too much and doesn't walk enough. He has to get stronger as well, after tiring as the season wore on.
Anderson struggled a bit after moving up to high Class A, but he was hard to stop in the SAL and finished the year in the Double-A Texas League. He's still viewed as raw by many managers despite his three years of college background, and he has less power and raw speed than Bourn. However, he's a polished basestealer who led the minors with 78 swipes and was caught just 13 times. Anderson's stock as a tablesetter would be higher if he had better command of the strike zone, which he didn't demonstrate after his promotion. His best tools are his bat and his plus-plus speed, and one manager described him as an effortless basestealer. He's a good center fielder, though he can get reckless at times. "He knows how to play offense," Joyce said. "He's got a short, compact swing that makes contact, he has savvy and speed and an idea of how to read pitchers. He'll get better as he learns the strike zone more."
Best Tools List
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Texas League in 2006
- Rated Best Baserunner in the Texas League in 2006
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the Texas League in 2005
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the Texas League in 2005
- Rated Best Baserunner in the Carolina League in 2004
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the South Atlantic League in 2004
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the South Atlantic League in 2004
- Rated Best Baserunner in the South Atlantic League in 2004
- Rated Best Strike-Zone Discipline in the South Atlantic League in 2004