Pittsburgh Pirates Future Friday: Matt Anderson

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

This season the site will be posting articles on Fridays that will be titled ‘Future Friday.’  These articles will be about a specific Pittsburgh Pirates minor league prospects who is having a successful season.

With the 315th overall pick in the 2016 Major League Baseball draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected right-handed pitcher from Morehead State, Mathew Anderson. Anderson, stands at 6’2” and  weighs 200 pounds.

When Anderson was drafted he most intriguing thing was his strikeouts per nine inning stat.  In his 2016 college season his k/9ip ratio was almost 13 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.  Obviously this a really impressive number, however there was a down side.  His walks per nine innings pitched was at four, which suggested that he has issues with command.  He could be considered wildly effective.

Obviously, Anderson has good pitches that he is able to produce so many swings and misses. His fastball tops out at 94 miles per hour and he typically sits about 91-93 miles per hour. His second best pitch is a slider that sits in the lower 80s.  This past year he learned to throw it with improved arm speed and it now sits around 85 miles per hour with more late movement to it. With that it is considered an average offering. He also throws a curve-ball that breaks more like a traditional, over the top curve-ball, it is considered a fringe-average pitch.  He also has a fourth pitch in a change-up, but it is his worst pitch and it needs the most work.

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Now some info on his college years at Morehead State.  In his freshmen season  he was 1-7 with a 6.09 ERA.  In his sophomore season  he was even worse going 2-8 with a 7.45 ERA.  His junior year he improved somewhat but still put up bad numbers going 3-1 with a 6.58 ERA and being moved to the bullpen to end the year.  However, he was given another chance this past season to start, and Morehead State was rewarded for doing so.  Anderson seemed like a different pitcher going 8-3 with a 2.95 ERA.  He also threw a career high 91.2 innings while striking out 130 batters for the season.  With that amount of strikeouts he finished in the top five among division one pitchers.

Anderson has been very impressive so far in his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.  So far he has appeared in 5 games for the West Virginia Black Bears, the advanced Short-Season season affiliate for the Pirates.  In those games he has made three starts and two relief appearances.  He has a record of 0-1 in those games but carries a 3.09 earned run average.  Even more impressive is he is still posting a lot of strikeouts.  In his first 11.2 innings pitched he has 20 strikeouts.  Even better news is he only has four walks in those innings.  He is holding opponent hitters to a .190 batting average and has an impressive WHIP of 0.94.  Yes it is a small sample size, but he has shown improved command already and is still missing bats.  Anderson has been the most impressive out of the college pitchers drafted so far.

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What will get Anderson to the major leagues is whether or not he and the Pirates can develop his other pitches (curve-ball and change-up) and continue to improve his command.  If he does that he has a chance to be a starter in the big leagues for the Pirates.  As of now it is not clear if the Pirates will use him as a starter in the minors.  However, the Bucs usually try to give their pitchers a chance to start in the minors before moving them to the bullpen.  They have used him in both roles, but that could be because they are trying to get all the draftees appearances.  Regardless continue to watch Anderson and how he does the remained of the season.