The San Francisco Giants will hand the ball to right-hander Shaun Anderson on Wednesday for his MLB debut.
The San Francisco Giants farm system is relatively thin on starting pitching talent at the moment. The best of the bunch might be right-hander Shaun Anderson, and he’ll make his MLB debut on Wednesday.
Ahead of his first big league start, let’s take a quick run through some scouting reports from notable publications to get an idea what he brings to the mound.
Baseball America ranked him as the No. 4 prospect in the San Francisco Giants system and offered up the following:
"“Anderson has four average-or-better pitches with above-average control that helps all of his offerings play up. He attacks hitters with a 92-94 mph fastball that can touch 96 mph, and his best offspeed pitch is an upper-80s slider. Anderson also uses an average changeup and curveball that are effective because of his ability to throw strikes with all four of his pitches in nearly any count. Evaluators praise Anderson for his ability to maneuver through a lineup multiple times, regularly keeping hitters guessing and off-balance with a strong baseball acumen.Anderson is knocking on the door of the majors. He spent the final three months of 2018 in Triple-A Sacramento with middling success, but he could be promoted to San Francisco by mid-2019. He projects best as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter.”"
MLB.com also had him at No. 4 in the system and wrote this:
"“Though he was stuck in the bullpen in college, Anderson has a mix of five effective pitches. He gets a lot of groundouts with his fastball, which sits at 91-94 mph and peaks at 96 with impressive sink and angle. His best secondary offering is a late-breaking mid-80s slider than he can turn into a upper-80s cutter when he wants.Anderson also has a sinking, fading changeup that counteracts left-handers and a curveball to give hitters a softer, different look. Though he doesn’t have a true plus pitch, he throws strikes with everything in his solid arsenal. Add in his strong makeup and San Francisco thinks it has the making of a mid-rotation starter.”"
Jason Pennini of Prospects Live had him a bit further down at No. 8:
"“Anderson’s pitch mix starts with his mid 90s fastball. The pitch has some sink to it, and Anderson throws strikes consistently to both sides of the plate; he works off the pitch in a “traditional manner”. His slider is mid-80s and the shape can be cutter-y at times; it is his best secondary. The changeup, also mid 80s flashes above average. The overall pitch mix is well-rounded but lacks a dominant put-away offering. Instead, Anderson needs to rely on command and sequencing to get the job done. Anderson’s AA 12.1% SwStr% dipped to 10.1% in AAA, which is somewhat concerning. His 46.9% GB% in the Eastern League ranked 12/34 among pitchers with 90+ innings.Mechanically, Anderson seems to have made a cognizant choice to sacrifice momentum for balance in his delivery. The current iteration reminds me of Matt Cain. Anderson is slow to home and upright, but the delivery is much more stable than it had been previously. The result is below average extension but good repeatability. Should he be unable to stick as starter, Anderson’s future in a pen is murky.”"
So the consensus seems to be that he possesses a solid three-pitch mix with his mid-90s fastball, plus slider and average changeup. He throws a lot of strikes and gets a lot of ground balls, which bodes well pitching in front of an excellent defensive infield.
And while he has a high floor and a good chance of making it as a starter, his lack of swing-and-miss stuff limits his ceiling to the middle of the rotation. There’s nothing wrong with that, it would just be wise to temper expectations.
The first step is a strong start on Wednesday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays.
With the starting rotation in flux, he could be up for good if he pitches well early on. After all, veterans Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz were never meant to be anything more than stopgap solutions to rounding out the staff.
In the early stages of rebuilding, it remains to be seen if Tyler Beede will seize the opportunity to claim a long-term rotation spot.
That means Anderson could be the first core piece to fall into place on the pitching side of things for the San Francisco Giants of the future.
What more reason do you need to tune in on Wednesday for his MLB debut?