The Phillies could have a sleeper candidate to help the starting rotation in 2019.
Expectations have been relatively low for Phillies prospect Drew Anderson from day one. A 21st round draft pick, Anderson was passed up on 667 times before Philadelphia selected him out of Galena High School in Nevada.
Anderson has appeared on several Phillies prospect rankings in recent years but hasn’t been ranked relatively high, mostly staying within the 20-30 range.
Entering major league camp in 2019 the soon-to-be 25-year-old is a long-shot to make the Phillies big league roster, ultimately destined to play in Lehigh Valley for the third consecutive season.
In his third start this spring, Anderson struck out six Yankees hitters and saw his ERA dip to 1.04. It’s a tremendous sign, though he’s not always facing elite hitters in these exhibition games.
Anderson flashed a fantastic cutter on Thursday, the best coming when he struck out Troy Tulowitzki to start the game.
The righty finished off the inning by striking out Luke Voit on a pitch that made the Yankees first baseman laugh as his knees buckled at the plate.
Manager Gabe Kapler talked about Anderson on the Mike Missanelli Show on 97.5 The Fanatic and NBCS Philadelphia after Anderson’s start Thursday afternoon.
"“If you watched Drew Anderson pitch today, you know, there might be some people, given the fact he’s added a cutter, he’s really firing the ball on that inside lane with his four-seam fastball, he dropped his curveball in there for a strike, that he could make a case for a rotation spot at some point as well.”More from Phillies NewsDoes Bailey Falter have a future in Phillies’ rotation?Bryce Harper’s absence should lead to Phillies lineup tinkeringPirates’ bizarre Vince Velasquez hype video will make Phillies fans laughAcquiring Brandon Marsh gave the Phillies flexibilityFormer Phillies starter Zach Eflin shares heartwarming goodbye message"
In seven major league games over two seasons, Anderson hasn’t impressed and looked like a career minor leaguer who would make his living in Triple-A. In 2017 he allowed seven runs in two and a third innings of relief.
Last season Anderson got a spot start and made four additional relief appearances, but he allowed 17 hits and seven runs in 12.2 innings.
Barring multiple Phillies starters being injured, it’s unlikely Anderson makes the big league rotation out of camp. He’ll be one of the first names Kapler calls upon should a starter go down, but Anderson will be mixed in with Jerad Eickhoff, Enyel De Los Santos, and Ranger Suarez for those duties as they continue to develop in Lehigh Valley.
Given where most fans and analysts thought Anderson’s career was headed it’s great to see him having success with the cutter. Anderson could be a swing arm between the rotation and bullpen by seasons end, making spot starts when needed, and the Phillies need as many talented arms as possible to make a long playoff run.