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Anderson No. 9 among Top 10 3B prospects

Big '17 season has 24-year-old on cusp of starting job
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- After a slow start in 2017, Brian Anderson had a strong finish. The 24-year-old made an impression as a September callup, and he will head into Spring Training competing for the Marlins' third-base job.

It's not a given Anderson will get the nod, because veteran Martin Prado, if he's healthy and isn't traded, is the front-runner to secure the spot. But whether it is by Opening Day or at a later date, Anderson has placed himself in the conversation for being Miami's third baseman of the future.

MIAMI -- After a slow start in 2017, Brian Anderson had a strong finish. The 24-year-old made an impression as a September callup, and he will head into Spring Training competing for the Marlins' third-base job.

It's not a given Anderson will get the nod, because veteran Martin Prado, if he's healthy and isn't traded, is the front-runner to secure the spot. But whether it is by Opening Day or at a later date, Anderson has placed himself in the conversation for being Miami's third baseman of the future.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

Anderson's progression also has earned him a spot on MLB Pipeline's list of the Top 10 third-base prospects, coming in at No. 9. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the No. 6 prospect in the Marlins' system.

Anderson made some big strides a year ago, working through an early slump at Double-A Jacksonville, eventually participating in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game in July. He advanced to Triple-A New Orleans before his Sept. 1 MLB debut.

"They pretty much told me they were happy with what I did," Anderson said last September after being called up. "They were happy with how I competed out there at a higher level, and they wanted to see me get more and more consistent and do that over the course of a full year."

A year ago, over 87 games with Jacksonville, Anderson had a respectable slash line of .251/.341/.450 with 14 home runs and 55 RBIs.

Video: Anderson named Marlins' Pipeline hitter of the year

Anderson earned a spot on the United States team in the Futures Game, which was played at Marlins Park. He started at DH and had two hits, including a double, before switching to third base and remaining on the field through the final out.

"It's what I've played my whole life to get, get this opportunity, and it was awesome and I had a lot of fun," Anderson said of the Futures Game.

Shortly after the Futures Game, Anderson was promoted to New Orleans, where his numbers took off. He appeared in 33 games, hitting .339/.416/.602 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs. All told, Anderson hit 22 home runs with 81 RBIs to go along with a .275/.361/.492 slash line in 120 Minor League games last year.

Video: Anderson discusses Futures Game during BP

With Prado on the disabled list following Anderson's callup, the rookie handled most of the action at third base. The results were solid in 25 big league games -- .262/.337/.369 with seven doubles, a triple and eight RBIs. The power didn't show as much, as he didn't hit a home run in 84 at-bats, but that's expected to change as he becomes more acclimated to MLB pitching.

The Marlins are restructuring their roster and are open to giving opportunities to their prospects, but Anderson is in a similar situation to many other players in the system. His development won't be rushed.

Video: Anderson could be a big part of Marlins' future

If the Marlins don't consider Anderson ready to be a regular on Opening Day, there's a chance he could open the year at New Orleans. On the other hand, there is a possibility that Prado could be dealt or even play left field, clearing the way for Anderson. First, Prado must re-establish his health. He missed time in 2017 due to left hamstring and knee injuries. The fact he's overcoming issues to his legs could decrease the chances Miami uses him in left field, especially in spacious Marlins Park.

For Anderson, it's about continued development. If he produces in Spring Training, he could make his case to being a big league regular.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Brian Anderson