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By Bill Mitchell

The third professional season for Syketo Anderson, an outfielder in the Chicago Cubs organization, has been a major success for the leadoff hitter and left fielder for the parent club's short season A affiliate in Boise, Idaho.  But the 2001 season didn't start out that way for the Alabama native, as he hit only .161 in 18 games for the Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League.
 
A return trip to the Cubs' extended spring training camp in Arizona after his experience in Lansing lead to an adjustment in Anderson's batting stance. The change in his approach at the plate resulted in a Northwest League batting championship for Anderson.
 
"I used to be squatted down more (when batting)," Anderson said about the change in his stance, "and trying to slap the ball.  When I came down from Lansing, I told myself I was going to stand up (in the batter's box), and it gave me a little more power." 
 
After the end of the extended spring season in June, Anderson was assigned to the short season Boise Hawks, who were in their first season as a Cubs affiliate after more than a decade with the Angels organization.  The transition for both the Hawks front office and their loyal fans was easy, as the Cubs sent a solid club to Boise for the 2001 season.  This year's version of the Hawks have dominated the Northwest League, coming close to setting a league record for wins and easily winning the East Division title.
 
Anderson has lead the way for Boise's high-powered offense from the leadoff spot in the order.  The Hawks' leftfielder, known to teammates and fans as "Keto," is leading the league in batting with a .377 average, more than 30 points higher than teammates Condor Cash and Brad Bouras, who rank second and third in the league.  He also leads the league in runs scored with 67, and ranks third in stolen bases with 23, third in on base percentage (.406) and fifth in slugging percentage (.527).  With 106 hits, he still has a chance to break the league record of 113 hits in a season, set in 1972.
 
The lefthanded hitter, who stands 5-11 and weighs a solid 180 pounds, has the ability to spray the ball around the field but with the power to turn on a pitch and drive it into the gap.  Anderson has hit a more than respectable six homeruns in 281at bats.
 
The biggest challenge facing Anderson is improving his defense.  Like his brother Marlon, a starter with the Philadelphia Phillies, he was a second baseman prior to turning pro.  Anderson made the change to the outfield in his first professional season with the Cubs Arizona League team in 1999 .
 
Having a brother already in the major leagues has been a plus for Anderson.  "I get a chance to see how he works out," he says about his brother, who is five years older than Syketo.  "He's a role model for me."  The Anderson brothers have worked out together at their family home in Alabama in past off-seasons.  Marlon recently got married and settled in the Tampa, Florida area, so Syketo will visit him for workouts this winter.
 
Anderson's goal is to advance to high class A Daytona in the Florida State League next year instead of making a return trip to Lansing.  His performance in Boise this season certainly makes a strong case for that jump in 2002.


 

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