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Anderson to prospects: 'Let your abilities work'

Former top picks give advice to future White Sox stars
MLB.com @scottmerkin

CHICAGO -- The stage was set for Brian Anderson's Major League arrival in 2006.

As the White Sox top pick in the 2003 MLB Draft and 15th selection overall in the first round, Anderson had already logged 35 plate appearances for the '05 World Series champions. That total included two home runs off of Felix Hernandez on Aug. 26 in Seattle.

CHICAGO -- The stage was set for Brian Anderson's Major League arrival in 2006.

As the White Sox top pick in the 2003 MLB Draft and 15th selection overall in the first round, Anderson had already logged 35 plate appearances for the '05 World Series champions. That total included two home runs off of Felix Hernandez on Aug. 26 in Seattle.

But with Aaron Rowand moved to Philadelphia in an offseason trade to bring slugger Jim Thome to the South Side, center field belonged to Anderson. It was an exciting proposition, but one that would quickly spell trouble for the organization's top prospect at the time.

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"Coming into 2006, winning the World Series, the expectations are astronomical," said Anderson, 34, who is out of baseball after playing parts of five big league seasons. "I never really struggled until that season, and struggling on a team that just won the World Series, it was pressure unlike anything I had ever seen."

Anderson's comments still stand today because of the White Sox rebuild. They acquired high-end players such as Yoan Moncada, the top position-player prospect in the game per MLBPipeline.com, and Lucas Giolito, the game's top pitching prospect, who both struggled during their albeit brief Major League callups last season.

The pair almost certainly will have to leap big league hurdles again starting in 2017 or '18. But comparing Moncada to himself, Anderson knows the stories and skill sets can be different.

"When I see Moncada swing, the two things I notice about him was physically how big and strong he was, which seems to be the trend in Cuba," Anderson said. "It took me all of two or three swings, watching him on some video, to realize he has a Major League swing.

"Even going through the Minors, I was really so raw. I knew even when I was watching video of myself that my swing didn't look as polished as other hitters."

These comments from Anderson came during a taping of the White Sox Extra Podcast this past week at Harry Caray's in Chicago. He was joined by John Ely, a White Sox third-round selection in the 2007 Draft who posted a 14-2 record and 2.82 ERA with Double-A Birmingham in '09.

Ely was traded that offseason to the Dodgers as part of the Juan Pierre deal. He made 25 appearances and 19 starts for Los Angeles over three seasons and after stops in three other organizations, has become the pitching coach for Great Falls, the White Sox Rookie affiliate in the Pioneer League. Ely, 30, points to health as a simple reason for prospect success -- he had Tommy John surgery in 2013.

There were a few other words of wisdom handed out by these two to the influx of top prospects moving toward Chicago.

"You always can know more, and knowledge is power in this game," Ely said. "Know more every day, study more every day. It's like taking a class in college: you can never be too prepared. If you are ready and know you are ready, confidence will take you through the rest."

"Play your game," Anderson added. "You are never as good as you think you are, but never ever as bad as you think you are. Even in the worst of times, not everyone is sitting there thinking how terrible you are. Even if they are, [the heck with] it. Go out and play and let your abilities work."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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