When our other prospect writers submit scouting reports, I will provide a short background and industry consensus tool grades. There are two reasons for this: 1) giving context to account for the writer seeing a bad outing (never threw his changeup, coming back from injury, etc.) and 2) not making him go on about the player’s background or speculate about what may have happened in other outings.
The writer still grades the tools based on what they saw, I’m just letting the reader know what he would’ve seen in many other games from this season, particularly with young players that may be fatigued late in the season. The grades are presented as present/future on the 20-80 scouting scale and very shortly I’ll publish a series going into more depth explaining these grades. -Kiley
Chris Anderson, RHP, Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (LAD, High-A – most recently viewed 8/17 at Rancho)
Anderson was a little-known, late-blooming cold-weather kid from Minnesota playing at a smaller college (Jacksonville) in Florida before he broke out in his draft year, 2013. The 6’4/215 righty would sit 91-94 and hit 96 mph most times out, threw a consistently above average slider that flashed plus and worked in a changeup that was average most games. His quick start to the year was derailed as high level scouts went to see him and he had a string of disappointing outings, then finished with a few strong starts en route to going 18th overall to the Dodgers. Command/general feel has been an issue in pro ball, as his slider is flashing 60 much less often and his changeup hasn’t flashed 50 very often, while his walk rate has doubled from his junior year at Jacksonville.
Fastball: 55/60, Slider, 50/55, Changeup: 40/50, Command: 40/50 -Kiley
It took until my seventh viewing of Chris Anderson, but the physical righty finally had everything going for him on one night. But even at Anderson’s best, the big righty failed to win me over.
Anderson’s four-seam fastball shows just fringe-average life, but he made up for it by generating plus to plus-plus fastball velocity that would get on hitters quickly. In this particular outing, the fastball got stronger as the game went along, which is a testament to his present size and strength. He began the game comfortably working 92-93 mph before dialing it up a tick once he got on a roll, even touching 96-97 mph on multiple occasions in the sixth and seventh innings.
As a starter, Anderson’s fastball velocity would normally earn himself a 65-grade, but I have applied a half-grade penalty on its present grade due to fastball command concerns. He exclusively worked arm side and middle-middle, and that has been a recurring theme for him this season. The future grade projection is representative of my belief that Anderson’s ultimate role is in the bullpen, where he’ll able to let loose and routinely work in the mid-90s rather than just flashing it. The command issues will still be present, but his shortcomings in that area will be less detrimental to his long-term success as a reliever.
This was the best I have seen Anderson’s slider, as it routinely came in as an above-average pitch while flashing plus. Some may call it a curveball, as the offering shows the action of one, but I have seen his actual curveball in the past and it’s been pocketed for the time being.
His slider features more vertical break than horizontal, but comes in with shorter shape and slider speed at 83-86 mph. It features late vertical bite while breaking away from right-handed batters or into left-handed batters. The slider is his weapon of choice in two-strike situations against same and opposite-sided batters. However, the command needs sharpening as does the usage; he didn’t throw it over for strikes, and while he didn’t need to in this outing, he will at the highest level.
Anderson shows some feel for the changeup, but doesn’t have the confidence to throw it on a consistent basis. As a result, the offering is lagging behind the rest of his arsenal. In this outing, Anderson only threw a few changeups without much manipulation to it. He can keep his arm speed, but the offering crosses home plate as firm and flat.
Anderson is a solid athlete that works out of a semi-windup delivery that has been significantly simplified from earlier this season, all in the hopes of getting him to throw more strikes. His most recent start is the first time I have seen him attack the strike-zone with a much better feel for his delivery, but was still struggling to get the fastball down. The arm is fast and he uses his lower half plenty to generate velocity. He’s striding more towards home plate with less crossfire within his delivery, and also doing a better job of moving towards the plate on leg lift.
His mechanical issue is with fastball extension. Anderson will cut his arm off rather than extending out in front with the pitch, causing him to struggle throwing strikes to the glove side third of the plate. It has gotten to the point where he just completely avoids throwing fastballs over there. Oddly enough, he creates the extension on his slider, which allows him to throw back-foot sliders to left-handed batters.
Anderson’s command and control has been a major issue for him throughout the year. He will often get wild and hotheaded on the mound when something doesn’t go his way. I didn’t see either one of those issues in this start, but it is worth mentioning it as I have witnessed it on multiple occasions this season.
Anderson entices evaluators with his large frame that is built for logging 180-200 innings a season, but I have a difficult time envisioning his lack of consistency working in a starting rotation. Anderson may be able to tighten up his command with improved extension, but the lack of consistency and third pitch are larger issues I cannot overlook. Ultimately, I see Anderson as a power reliever in a bullpen, where he is able to come into games pumping easy mid-90s velocity with an above average to plus slider. His pitching style and temperament on the mound seem best suited for a reliever’s role, too.