The Braves knew they had an opportunity to add a lot of talent heading into the 2016 Draft. They had five picks in the top 80 overall, starting with the No. 3 overall selection. As a result, they had one of the largest bonus pools and spent $15,516,300 over the top 10 rounds of the Draft, more than any other team.
The organization was able to aggressively go after talent throughout the first two days of the Draft, giving out seven figure bonuses to four high school pitchers. One, Bryse Wilson, has already spent time in the big leagues. Another, Joey Wentz, was traded to the Tigers last Trade Deadline in the Shane Greene deal.
The first arm taken, however, was Ian Anderson, a prep right-hander at the time from upstate New York. While Anderson was definitely considered a top half of the first-round pick (he was No. 13 on our Draft Top 200 that June), most didn’t see him as a No. 3 overall type selection. The Braves were able to sign him for $4 million, more than $2.5 million below slot, which greatly aided in their efforts to manipulate their bonus pool.
For the most part, Anderson hasn’t pitched like a money-saver, pitching in the Futures Game and reaching Triple-A in 2019 at age 21. The Braves' No. 3 prospect becomes the third member of this Draft class to reach the big leagues when he makes his debut on Wednesday, and he carries a 2.91 ERA, .214 batting average against and 10.7 strikeout-per-nine ratio with him. It’s important to note that had he gone to college, this would have been just his first full season of pro ball, so he’s way ahead of the curve, all while showing a very calm demeanor on the mound.
What else does Anderson bring with him to the mound? Here’s a closer look at what the No. 42 prospect in baseball has to offer, with his grades on the 20-to-80 scouting scale in parentheses (20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average):
Fastball (60): Anderson consistently gets his fastball up to 96 mph and he uses his 6-foot-3 frame well to create good angle and downhill movement. He’s shown the ability to both miss bats and get ground-ball outs over the years with the pitch.
Curveball (55): When Anderson lands this in the strike zone, it’s a plus power breaking pitch that has, and can, miss bats on a regular basis. He’ll subtract from it at times to command the pitch better, though that takes away some of its bite.
Changeup (55): He’s always had feel for his offspeed pitch and it’s only gotten better the more he’s committed to it as a pro, since he didn’t need it to get New York high school hitters out. It’s now a legitimate third at-least above-average offering in his repertoire.
Control (50): This is one area where Anderson has struggled a bit at times in his climb up the organizational ladder, and he really tried to do too much when he reached Triple-A last year, leading to a 6.6 BB/9 rate over five starts after making strides in Double-A prior to the promotion. He’s walked four per nine in his Minor League career, but he has the ability to repeat his delivery, and most feel he’ll have at least average command in time. The Braves were pleased with how well he attacked the zone with all of his pitches during his time in the alternate camp in Gwinnett this summer.