The third overall pick in 2016, Anderson has looked the part of a top pitching prospect this year for Double-A Mississippi. He made four starts at the level to end 2018, posting similar numbers this year over a longer sample (30-percent strikeouts, 12-percent walks; sub 3.00-ERA, holding hitters to a .200 average) and being named an all-star in the Southern League.
Anderson’s fastball sits in the mid-90s and touches 96-97 mph, showing plus life through the zone with explosive late ride. His delivery isn’t the most mechanically sound, but it works for him and has some natural deception with moving parts on both the front and back side. It’s control over command right now–and even the walk rate is a little shaky–though his fastball is dominant enough at this level to get swinging strikes regardless. Anderson will need to sharpen his ability to prevent walks and pitch to spots within the zone, but there’s reason to project on both aspects improving given his age and athletic operation. His hard low-80s curve shows consistent swing/miss action, projecting to a 60-grade pitch as he learns to land it in the zone more frequently. Anderson’s changeup has taken steps forward this year, showing flashes of solid circle action and separation from his fastball to give a third pitch for hitters to worry about.
Anderson just turned 21 in May, meaning he would have been a college junior in this year’s draft if he fulfilled his Vanderbilt commitment out of high school. He still has some small things to work on, but the ingredients of a solid big league rotation piece are easy to see. It starts with a plus fastball, and his breaking ball should continue to play as an out pitch such that Anderson always racks up big strikeout numbers so long as he’s operating in the 95-to-97 mph range. He could be a front-of-the-rotation piece with significantly improved command and third pitch. Even if he winds up a hair short of that, Anderson has the tools to settle in as a #3 starter and should join an already deep Braves rotation in the next two years. He ranked #14 overall on our Top 125 Prospects entering 2019 and should hold close to that spot on our next edition of the list.