San Bernardino, California —— San Francisco Giants right-handed pitching prospect Shaun Anderson was nearly perfect in his final start of the 2017 season: six innings on Wednesday night with just one hit, no walks, and no runs allowed against seven strikeouts of Inland Empire 66ers hitters in a San Jose Giants victory. It was my first time seeing Anderson after the San Francisco Giants traded for him from the Boston Red Sox in the Eduardo Nunez deal at the end of July, and I came away very impressed with the righty who is undoubtedly one of his new organization’s best pitching prospects.
Anderson sat 90-93 mph with his fastball on Wednesday night, and showed off a slider and a changeup in addition to the hard stuff. He reportedly throws a curveball, too, though that didn’t show on Wednesday. With as much late life as he had on his fastball and slider, though, there was little need for him break out the curveball against an Inland Empire club that didn’t barrel him up all night, even with a big leaguer hitting second as part of an injury rehab assignment.
The real story here, though, is his exceptional raw stuff and late life on his pitches. Anderson’s fastball runs hard and sinks very late at the plate, making it very difficult to square up especially when down in the zone. His slider has very, very late life too, with legitimate 11-to-5 break that comes sharply right as the pitch gets up on a hitter, and the righty has feel to both sides of the plate. It’ll turn into a cement mixer every now and then, spinning and backing up on occasion, but when Anderson gets on top of the pitch and releases it out front there’s a remarkable amount of hard late break that gives him one of the better sliders I’ve seen all year. Add an arm-side running changeup with tumble, and you have a guy with nuanced feel across the board who can match up well to hitters on both sides of the plate.
We got a good look at that slider—and the rest of his repertoire—with a video of his pre-game bullpen on Wednesday. You can see all that pitch life and late hard movement, plus a few shots of his in-game mechanics from a side view, by watching that video right here:
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Long term, I think Shaun Anderson has an outside shot at being a mid-rotation starter, and will more likely find a home as a back-end starting pitcher, but there’s a lot of subtle life in his stuff. That advanced sinker/slider combo should help make him a ground ball machine as he continues to further refine and perfect his command down in the zone. I’d have love to have seen his overhand curveball this week, but the fastball/slider combo alone is alluring on its own, and good feel for a changeup gives the San Francisco Giants righty enough to survive a lineup multiple times.
Shaun Anderson will turn 23 years old at the end of October, and after making 16 solid High-A starts between the Giants and Red Sox this year, it’s likely he’ll be ticketed for Double-A Richmond‘s starting rotation come 2018. While his final 2017 outing on Wednesday night was exceptional on its own accord, looking beyond it is an exciting thing, too; he has as much late life on his entire arsenal as anybody I saw all season, and that’ll propel him to the big leagues in about 18 months.