Rockies like what they see in Anderson
Left-handed starter progressing nicely through Minors
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tyler Anderson happily accepted the disruption of his travel plans.
Anderson, 23, a left-handed pitcher, was impressive enough at the low Class A level in 2012 -- his first year of pro ball -- that the Rockies called with a surprise invitation to Major League camp. He had to do some quick rearranging to arrive for Sunday's report date for pitchers and catchers. The Rockies said Saturday there is no formal plan for Sunday. Physicals will be Monday, and the first workout at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick will be Tuesday.
"I found out Tuesday afternoon," Anderson said. "I had been planning on getting there around Feb. 22 or 23 for Minor League camp. But they called me, wanted to make sure I was ready. I was in low A, and normally a guy at that level doesn't get invited to big league camp. It was a great honor, and I'm very excited."
The Rockies chose Anderson, a Las Vegas native out of the University of Oregon, in the first round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Anderson didn't pitch immediately after the Draft, and last year he suffered a sports hernia before the season began. Anderson decided not to undergo surgery.
He proved the decision correct by going 12-3 with a 2.47 ERA in 120 innings over 20 starts for Asheville. He finished with 81 strikeouts against 28 walks, and held hitters to five home runs.
"The sports hernia didn't really affect me when I was pitching, and when you're pitching if there is pain you try not to pay attention to it," Anderson said. "When you have a bunch of guys behind you, it's your job to give 100 percent. It changed my routine; you can't lift as much or work out the same. It made it tough to prepare, but I still prepared."
After the season, the Rockies sent Anderson to Philadelphia sports hernia specialist Dr. William Meyers, who also performed the operation to remove scar tissue from Rockies star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki's left groin. Not only was the operation successful, but Anderson was able to work out this winter with Tulowitzki, who lives in Las Vegas.
"I would normally spend the offseason in Eugene because the University of Oregon has a great workout facility, but this time I was able to work out with Tulo for a few weeks, since he had a similar operation," Anderson said. "He works hard, and more than that he is a great guy who helped me out. He's very intelligent and always professional."
The Rockies see the same attributes in Anderson. He throws a cut fastball and a sinker, and those pitches run 88-92 mph. He also has a changeup and is developing a breaking ball. The way he mixes pitches and thinks through the game has some believing, with a good camp, he could skip the High A Modesto club and begin the year in Double-A Tulsa.
Having a first-round Draft pick starting pitcher move through the system quickly and succeed would be something that hasn't happened since the Rockies selected lefty Jeff Francis in 2002 and saw him grab a rotation spot by 2004.
Rockies player development director Jeff Bridich said he is less concerned with the level Anderson starts at than how well he progresses.
"I like his demeanor -- he's very responsible and takes his job very seriously," Bridich said. "He thinks and reasons well on the mound, and shows a fearlessness up there. He does a really nice job of pitching, not getting caught up in throwing hard. After not having a ton of work going into last year because of the injury, he ended up having a nice year.
"With the type of person and the type of preparer he is, he will very much be ready to go and push to get to the highest level he possibly can. For me, it's not where you start but how you finish. I don't have any predispositions."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.