Back on schedule. That is the update on Red Sox Prospect Lars Anderson, who was promoted yesterday from AA Portland to AAA Pawtucket. Generally, only hardcore farm watchers like myself care about minor league box scores and promotions. But Anderson is a different story and this is why it holds significance.
Here is the background on Anderson, a sweet-swinging first baseman. He was a 2006 draft pick that the Sox signed away from Cal. During his freshman year at Greenville, Anderson hit plenty. And during his sophomore year, split between high A Lancaster and AA Portland, Anderson absolutely mashed. At this point, he was at least a year ahead of schedule and some thought that Anderson’s trajectory could land him in Boston by 2010.
Well, a funny thing happened along the way to Fenway …… Anderson had a junior year to forget (simlar in some ways to my junior yr at UCLA). He started the year in Portland and to put it kindly, he never got going. Whether it was the pressure of being the Sox’ top prospect or something else entirely, Anderson had a miserable year and his status faded to the point where some observers no longer thought of him as the best first baseman in the system. In other words, his relevance was in doubt. Mind you, Anderson’s “bad”year came while he was facing competition well in advance of his age group. So while his peers were still seeing fastballs at high-A and college, Anderson was going up against big-time talent at AA.
Fast forward to 2010 and Anderson was still at Portland to open the season. But rather then mope about being left back, Anderson shot out of the gate, destroying Eastern League pitching from the outset. In three weeks, this was the damage: .355/.408/.677. When adjusted for the April cold and the league’s parks/pitching, those numbers are massive. Too massive, in fact, to hold Anderson down any longer.
So Anderson is now in Pawtucket and right back on schedule. After all, Anderson’s college-bound peers are first year draftees and few know what it’s like to crush AA pitching. For instance, Dustin Ackley, the second player selected in last year’s draft is hitting .153 for AA West Tennessee. Further, a QUICK review of high school position players taken in Anderson’s 2006 draft reveals that Anderson is now well ahead of everyone, other than Travis Snider.
Anderson’s surge is a big development for the Sox and it comes at a very important time as Boston will be looking for a DH and a corner infielder this off-season. With four big months at Pawtucket, Anderson could be that guy. Granted, things have to click for Lars, which is no certainty, but if he produces, the Sox will have options this off-season as they re-tool the roster. Perhaps Anderson could be in Boston next April, playing first while Youkilis slides over to third. Or perhaps Beltre is re-signed, Youkilis stays at first and Anderson is brought in to DH. Such a move might save the Sox millions and free up resources to spend elsewhere. Finally, Lars’ emergence could give the Sox another big trade chip, particualrly if his hot start carries over to Pawtucket.
Obviously It would have been nice if Anderson’s trajectory had not been interrupted and these options were available this past Winter. That didn’t turn out to be the case but Anderson is now back on track and Sox have to be excited that Lars is “live” prospect once more. Whether he stays there is a question to be answered, but for now, Anderson has returned to relevance.