Australia to Texas: Anderson's unique path

Right-hander recalls success in Australian Baseball League in 2020

August 7th, 2021

OAKLAND -- wanted to get away.

The Rangers right-hander had just gone through the strangest year of his professional career. He spent most of his lone season in the White Sox organization at the team’s alternate training site. In his only game with the big league club, a relief appearance against Cleveland, he allowed six runs in less than two innings. Less than a month later, he was released.

Up until that point in his career, Anderson had played at least one game in four different seasons, from 2017-20, but hadn’t played enough to lose his rookie classification. He oscillated from a starter in the Minors to a reliever in the Majors. He had proven enough to be worth a chance to play for the big league teams, but not enough to stay. So, Anderson wanted to get away.

But that didn’t mean the desire to pitch in the big leagues faded. Not at all. He still wanted to throw. He still wanted to prepare. He wanted to be ready for the next opportunity that arose -- and eventually, one did.

“Do you want a job in Australia?” asked teammate and former roommate Josh Tols.

With that, Anderson was headed off to a new continent.

Anderson signed a deal with the Melbourne Aces of the Australian Baseball League for the 2020-21 season, which stretched from December to February. It was his first time going to Australia, but any fears or anxieties quickly dissipated upon his arrival.

The ABL was an opportunity for Anderson to create some space between himself and the American game, to stay prepared and keep training. More importantly, however, it was a chance to have fun. Anderson enjoyed the opportunity to immerse himself in the culture, whether it was eating regional specialties or traveling to Gold Coast or 12 Apostles. Vegemite, though, was another story.

“I only tried it once and that’s when I was quarantined in a hotel,” Anderson said. “I didn’t do it right. It was just like a little packet of butter and I opened it up and just licked it. It’s a weird taste. I think it’s a taste you have to get used to. I can’t even explain it. They put it on buttered toast; that’s what you’re supposed to put it on. And I was like, why ruin perfectly good buttered toast? Just for some Vitamin B?”

Anderson’s ability to enjoy the trip was aided by his emergence as one of the best closers in the entire league. Free from the pressure to perform, he didn’t allow a single earned run across 13 1/3 innings and recorded seven saves, racking up 28 strikeouts to three walks. Pitching for Melbourne allowed Anderson the opportunity to work with Peter Moylan, a 12-year Major League veteran who served as the club's pitching coach.

“He’s a hoot,” Anderson said. “A lot of fun to be with and [he] just gives you the ball and lets you be your own person.”

Upon returning to the United States, Anderson parlayed that success in Australia into a Minor League contract in February. And after putting up some solid numbers with Triple-A Round Rock -- a 3.15 ERA across 68 2/3 innings with 85 strikeouts -- the team selected his contract last Friday.

In his brief time with Texas, Anderson has held his own, pitching four scoreless innings in relief across two appearances. Come Saturday, he’ll have the opportunity to make his second Major League start, his first in more than three years. If all goes well against Oakland, it wouldn't be surprising if there are more starts in his immediate future.

Anderson made plenty of memories during his brief time in Australia. With the Rangers, he’ll have the chance to prove he has some staying power.