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Spotlight on Craig Anderson

By Jason Blasco

It was the All-Star Futures Game, and excitement was in the air.  Some of the most talented players from all levels in the minor leagues were invited to play at Atlanta's Turner Field.  One of those players was Seattle Mariner's pitching prospect, Craig Anderson, who was barely one year removed from his minor league debut with the Northwest League Everett AquaSox. 
    Craig Anderson says, " That was one of the most memorable games in my career. They treated us like major leaguers.  We got to play in a major league park, and it was like they were giving us an incentive to become major league players."  This season, Craig Anderson has plenty of incentives to persue his dream of  becoming a major leaguer.  Players in the Midwest League are developing a growing respect and fear for the left handed, 6 foot 2 pitcher that wears the number 7, and helps put the rattle in the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.
    Only 19 years old, Craig Anderson is showing that he already has the ability tothrow 4 different pitches for strikes, a devastating curve ball, fastball, slider.  These
pitches are baffling opponents, causing them to hit a minuscule .268 against this left-handed pitcher, who relies more on finesse than power.  In addition to holding opponents to a paltry batting average, he has also posted some pretty impressive numbers in the Midwest League, with an outstanding 11-6 record for 103 strikeouts in 129 innings, and a respectable 3.82 ERA. With those fabulous numbers, it looks like he could be on his way to the brand new Safeco Field in a couple of years, helping an already young, deep, and talented Mariner's staff. 
    This success is nothing new to Craig Anderson though.  Before coming toAmerica, he had success playing in the Australian Baseball League.  With the
Sydney Storm, he really caused opponents to be confused by keeping them off balance with his pitches that he cleverly mixes up.  With a 5-4 record, a
2.36 ERA, and 45 strikeouts in 68.2 innings, he gave opponents hardly anything to hit, holding them to a .235 average.  In the playoffs, he also was a key contributor to the Storm march towards a championship. In his one
start in a playoff game, he held the Adelaide Saints to only one earned run.  All of this was accomplished by Craig at the young age of  17 years old, which shows that he still has a lot of room and time to improve.  
    When Craig Anderson came to America last season to start his climb up the minor league ladder, he was the fifth starter for the short season class A Everett AqauSox.  Anderson says, " I was nervous my first game pitching for the AquaSox, and I gave up about 3 runs in five innings."  After that steady start, 18-year-old Anderson went on to terrorize the Northwest League for the rest of the season.  Craig put up almost unheard of numbers for a short season league, with a near perfect record of 10-2.  All you had to do to find out how Anderson was doing last season was look at top of a Northwest League pitching leaders stats sheet to know how dominate he was.  He led the league in victories, complete games (2), shutouts, innings pitched (90), and was third in the league in ERA, and strikeouts.  He also rewrote the AquaSox record book, with his 10 wins being the second most in Everett's rich history of baseball players.         
    Going into his second professional season, Anderson is taken giant leaps towards the major leagues.  Working diligently with pitching coach Eric Chavez, Anderson is trying to improve his game including mechanics and other important parts of pitching.  Craig says, " Eric Chavez has really helped improve my game.  He has really worked with me on my mechanics, which is the
part of the game I need to improve on the most."  Craig also checks the scouting reports on batters before each game, studies their strengths and weaknesses, and tries to use this information to his advantage.  Before
games, he also warms up, works on things with the pitching coach, and also listens to music to try to relax before he dominates batters.  On the mound, he has a quiet, competitive demeanor, with four pitches he mixes up to get players to strike out, popup, or flyout, and then they quickly become spectators of the game, instead of on base.  He has shown signs of things to come by twice this season striking out 10 batters. 
    Craig Anderson is one of the top pitchers in the abundantly talentedMariner's system.  It may be his athletic background and work ethic that has helped him become a success, playing against some of world's best baseball players in the minors.  Also, studying and modeling his game after two elite pitchers in the major leagues, Greg Maddux and Jamie Moyer, has helped
Anderson become the player he is now.  All of these things are the reasons he will someday be playing in a major league uniform. 


 

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