Anderson, Duran take charge in spring games

March 20th, 2021

For little while on Friday night, Braves right-hander Ian Anderson was as dominant as anybody could hope. He finished his start against the Twins with nine strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk. But Anderson began the outing by piling up eight of those strikeouts over four no-hit innings, showing the stuff that makes him baseball's No. 18 prospect.

He blazed through the first inning, needing only eight pitches despite punching out two in the frame. He opened the second with two more strikeouts. When finally a Minnesota batter reached base in the third, it was another strikeout victim -- Tzu-Wei Lin reached on a wild pitch by Anderson for strike three. The 22-year-old New York native responded by inducing a grounder off the bat of Tomás Telis for an inning-ending double play.

Andrelton Simmons got aboard on a fielding error by Anderson to start the fourth but was caught stealing, and the hurler shrugged off a walk to Jake Cave by fanning Mitch Garver and Miguel Sanó in succession. The Twins broke out with three straight hits to open the fifth inning, although Anderson struck out Lin again before Telis chased the 2016 first-rounder with a fourth knock.

It was Anderson's third start of the spring -- second against Minnesota. All told, he's whiffed 18 over 9 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on 11 hits and three walks. He made six starts for Atlanta in 2020, going 3-2 with a 1.95 ERA and 41 strikeouts over 32 1/3 innings.

As in control as Anderson has sometimes appeared on the mound this month, Boston's Jarren Duran was every bit a force in the batter's box on Friday.

The No. 4 Red Sox prospect went 4-for-5 with a double, three RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base in Boston's 11-7 win over Tampa Bay. That red-letter showing gives Duran a Grapefruit League slash line of .407/.448/.815 over 16 games, and it boosted his batting average 89 points.

The left-handed-hitting Duran opened his hit parade by lining a one-out single up the middle off Rays southpaw Rich Hill, then put the Red Sox on the board by slugging an RBI double off the top of the center-field wall against Hill in the third. In the seventh, he smoked a single through the right side against righty Andrew Kittredge and swiped second without drawing a throw. He capped the big day by breaking a 7-7 tie with a lined two-out, two-run single up the middle against righty Joey Krehbiel in the eighth.

Duran, who figures to spend significant time in the big leagues this year, spent Friday in center field and was the only Boston player to play the entire game. He's coming off an MVP performance in the Puerto Rican Winter League playoffs and impressed as an alternate-site player last summer. Taken in the seventh round of the 2018 Draft, Duran reached Double-A on June 4, 2019, and stole 23 bases and posted 17 extra-base hits over 82 games there before reporting to the Arizona Fall League, where he ripped off seven more bags and tallied a homer, two triples and five doubles in 24 games.

More prospect news from Friday's Spring Training action:

Jarred Kelenic, OF, SEA (MLB No. 4)
Kelenic's impressive spring continued as he picked up a pair of hits and drove in a run against the White Sox. The 21-year-old outfielder doubled in his first at-bat, added a base hit in his next trip to the plate and ended his night with an RBI groundout, bringing his spring average to .333 through six games. Gameday »

Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT (MLB No. 9)
Hayes showed no signs of cooling off, doubling twice, scoring twice, and earning an RBI with a fielder's choice against Baltimore. The right-handed hitter kicked it off by drilling an opposite-field, one-hopper off the wall in the first and laced another double -- his sixth of Grapefruit League play -- to right in the third. Hayes has a .433/485/.800 line through 10 games. He hit .376 with five homers over 24 games for the Pirates in the regular season last year. Gameday »

Casey Mize, RHP, DET (MLB No. 11)
No stranger to adversity, Mize was dinged up for a second straight outing but continued to post high strikeout numbers. After the Phillies got to the 23-year-old righty for six runs (thanks in part to two homers and three walks) over 2 1/3 innings last Saturday, the Blue Jays scored five runs on eight hits -- including another pair of jacks -- and a walk against him over 3 2/3 innings in his most recent outing. Still, he fanned five in the brief appearance, throwing 37 pitches 96 mph or faster and making 49 of 72 pitches strikes. Gameday »

Alex Kirilloff, OF, MIN (MLB No. 26)
Kirilloff was one of the few Minnesota hitters to show any efficacy against Anderson, roping a single to center off him and scoring on a double by fellow prospect Brent Rooker. The 23-year-old outfielder had gone hitless over nine at-bats across three games dating to last Thursday, when he homered. Kirilloff made his Major League debut in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series last year, going 1-for-4. Gameday »

Matthew Liberatore, LHP, STL (MLB No. 37)
After retiring the first five batters he faced, Liberatore ran into some trouble nailing down that sixth out. The Cardinals’ top pitching prospect gave up a triple and issued a walk before an error by third baseman Evan Mendoza allowed a run to score on a fielder’s choice and knocked Liberatore out of the game. In four spring outings, the southpaw has worked around two runs, one earned on three hits and six walks with five strikeouts in six frames. Gameday »

Nick Madrigal, 2B, CWS (MLB No. 40)
Madrigal put together a perfect day at the plate, going 3-for-3 against the Mariners. The 24-year-old infielder is 4-for-6 over his past two games and coming off a 2020 season in which he made his Major League debut and hit .241 over 58 at-bats. Gameday »

Ryan Mountcastle, 1B, BAL (MLB No. 77)
Mountcastle, who came into the game with five spring hits but zero singles, got his first one in the opening frame against the Pirates, driving in a run and scooting to second on a throwing error. He trotted past first base again in the sixth after swatting an opposite-field jack for another couple RBIs and his second homer of the spring. The 24-year-old first baseman went yard 25 times at the Triple-A level in 2019. Gameday »

Garrett Whitlock, RHP, BOS
Whitlock has gone unscored upon in three of four appearances this spring, and in Friday's he held the Rays to a hit while fanning five over three innings. Entering in the sixth, the 24-year-old righty retired seven in a row, striking out the side in the seventh. After Tristan Gray broke the streak with a single, Whitlock kept his composure to strand him in the eighth. Having undergone Tommy John surgery after being shut down in July 2019, he was selected out of the Yankees system by the Red Sox in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft. Gameday »

Alejandro Kirk, C, TOR
Kirk continued his strong spring by taking Mize deep with a solo shot to right in the second. The backstop’s second Grapefruit League homer had an exit velocity of 97.3 mph as it gave the Jays the lead for good. Even after going 1-for-4, Kirk is hitting .375/.421/.750 in eight games this month. Gameday »

Deivi García, RHP, NYY
García showed impressive poise to turn in three no-hit, scoreless innings against the Phillies despite walking four. Three of those walks came in the opening frame, as he started the game by putting Andrew McCutchen aboard, then issued one-out walks to Bryce Harper and Jean Segura. After a mound visit, he retired two to get out of the inning but was back in the stretch with a leadoff walk to Matt Joyce in the second. Joyce, though, was the last Philadelphia hitter to get aboard against García. The 21-year-old righty made six starts for the Yankees last year, going 3-2 with a 4.98 ERA. Gameday »