Last week, nine big-league scouts went to visit AA Mississippi to do their homework on some of the Braves youth that may be included in a potential trade. On the mound was Atlanta’s #2 prospect, according to our SportsTalkATL rankings, Ian Anderson, who put on a show for the world to see.
Through four innings, Anderson struck out nine batters, allowing one hit and one unearned run. Unfortunately, when you are putting up that many Ks, the pitch count can get up there, and he exited early after 5.1 innings (102 pitches) of three-hit ball with no earned runs.
This followed a performance in which the 6’3″ right-hander struck out ten over seven innings with one run allowed, and in his last five outings, Anderson has posted a 1.02 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 26 innings. That brings his total strikeout number to 138, which leads the Southern League, in just 105 innings. He’s quickly surpassed Kyle Wright as the Braves most valuable pitching prospect, and there will be a bevy of teams attempting to convince Alex Anthopoulos to include him in a trade package.
Nobody is untradeable, especially with Atlanta only a piece or two away from being something special. If the Mets wanted to make a deal centered around Anderson for Noah Syndergaard or Edwin Diaz without asking for Pache or Waters, the Braves would have to consider it. Having a 2.66 ERA, with a K/9 well over 10, and a .199 batting average against is spectacular in AA, but translating those numbers to the majors is much more difficult. Thor has a proven track record of success, one of the best repertoires in baseball, and three more years of control remaining. It would be worth it. The same can be said about Diaz.
However, a blockbuster deal of that magnitude between division rivals is a rarity, and there aren’t too many other players on the market worth Anderson. He’s more likely to be a Brave when he wakes up on August 1st than not, and if he is, it might be time to consider giving him a start in Atlanta.
Now, being a AA standout and MLB-ready are two different things, but Anderson provides another potential solution to the Braves rotation problems; if Anthopoulos cannot find the right deal for one at the trade deadline. Kevin Gausman bounced back in his first outing with the Braves, tossing seven innings of one-run ball. But then he stumbled on Sunday in Philadelphia. Mike Foltynewicz has begun to show signs of promise in AAA Gwinnett and could find himself back in the bigs in August. But who knows? Anderson could be the best option of the three.
The MLB is loaded with talented live arms that have taken over the game. You don’t have to look any further than the Braves’ Mike Soroka, who made his debut in Atlanta at 20 and has already become the ace of the staff in his age 21 season. Coincidently, the two are the same age now, and Anderson has put up an even better stat line than Soroka did in the Southern League.
A call to AAA Gwinnett is imminent, and if Anderson continues to shine with the Stripers, there will be an opportunity for him to make his major league debut in September. Soroka only needed five starts with Gwinnett before the Braves called him up for good. It’s far-fetched to expect Anderson to follow in those footsteps, but based on his consistent dominance in AA, he deserves a shot, and the Braves owe it to themselves to see what they have before a playoff run.