Anderson has a 91-97 mph FASTBALL with a 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and that has riding life up in the zone. It gives hitters a unique look with low spin rates and more drop than a typical fastball He gets deceptive tilt on his late-breaking 78-80 mph 12-to-6 CURVEBALL that picks up extra break straight down the closer it gets to the plate, garnering some swing-and-miss. It is a 50 grade offering in part because he locates it at well an is enough of a different look, keeping hitters off-balance.
Ian has impressive fade on a potentially devastating 85-88 mph CHANGEUP with deception. His change has become a solid weapon vs. both left- and righthanded hitters with superb late fade at times, for a 55 grade. He generated a 40% whiff rate in 2020. It has has less movement than typical changeups, but plays well because he sells it out of his overhand arm slot. Anderson’s confidence and ability to throw it for strikes makes his changeup a plus offering. Ian has 60 grade Control.
Ian limits hard contact, generating K's with his 3-pith mix. He is able to consistently change hitters’ eye levels. (Carlos Collazo - BA Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2021)
Anderson isn't far from bringing his three-pitch mix to a big league rotation. It all starts with a plus fastball thrown with good angle and downhill movement. He misses a ton of bats and can get contact on the ground, as well. His power curve can be a plus pitch when he commands it and the fastball-curve combination is a big reason why he's struck out 10.7 per nine innings heading into 2020. His changeup continued to improve in 2019 and is now a viable third weapon for him to use.
Despite struggling with finding the strike zone when he got to Triple-A for the first time in 2019, he did improve his overall command for most of the year. That will have to continue in order for him to reach his ceiling as a frontline starter, but it's important to note that he would have been just a college junior in 2019 if he hadn't signed.
Ian changes a batters’ eye levels regularly as he works up in the zone with four-seam fastballs, coming from an over-the-top arm slot, and he's been effective with it pitching both up and down in the zone. He then buries a big-breaking curve. Some evaluators were concerned with Anderson’s fastball command and also wanted to see him use his curveball as a chase pitch out of the zone more often. (Spring, 2020)
2020 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball: 48.1% of the time; Sinker less than 1%; Change 30.5%; and his Curve 21.3% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94.7 mph, Sinker 92.3, Change 87.8, and Curve 80.4 mph.
Ian has good projection. He has lots of room to add good weight.
Anderson throws all three of his pitches from an identical release point, making his pitches difficult for hitters to identify. He has an easy arm action and a good downhill angle in his over-the-top delivery. He stays straight on to the plate.
Braves scouting director Brian Bridges said. “He’s young, he has command and he throws three pitches for strikes. He really knows what he wants to do. He can place the fastball glove-side, and he pitches down. He’s very advanced.”
Anderson has excellent baseball savvy. He is a cerebral righthander with a mature approach and the ability to dissect the strike zone with his command and ability to work both sides of the plate.
His understanding, intelligence and makeup allow him to make adjustments. He understands how to pitch. And big crowds and pressure situations don't bother him.
Ian has great mound presence, along with sound mechanics and electric stuff. He just needs reps and experience under his belt. (Spring, 2019)
2018 Season: Anderson held opponents to two earned runs or less in 19 of his 24 starts, including nine scoreless outings. He allowed only two home runs all season, and he finished in the top 20 in the minors among starters with a 2.49 ERA (20th) and .199 opponent average (15th).
June 28, 2019: A pair of Mississippi Braves hurlers made history as Ian Anderson and Jeremy Walker combined to throw a no-hitter in a 2-0 win over Double-A Jackson at Trustmark Park. It was the third no-hitter in M-Braves history and the team’s first since Julio Teheran and Ty’Relle Harris combined to accomplish the feat in 2010.
Anderson celebrated being named to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game by turning in the best start of his career. The Braves’ No. 3 prospect racked up a career-best 14 strikeouts to match the Mississippi franchise record set by Tommy Hanson in 2008.
He struck out the side in the first inning and then did so again in the fifth en route to posting multiple strikeouts in five of his seven frames. It was the second double-digit strikeout performance in 16 starts this season by the 21-year-old, who faced only five batters over the minimum, while issuing two walks and throwing 66 of 103 pitches for strikes, including a season-high 19 swinging strikes.
Anderson leads all Double-A pitchers with 113 strikeouts in 85.2 innings this season, while his ERA sits at 2.94 after Friday’s gem. The former 2016 first-round pick (No. 3 overall) has held opposing hitters to a .194 average. (M Rosenbaum - MLB.com - June 28, 2019)
2019 Season: Ian spent the bulk of the summer in the Southern League and led the circuit with 147 strikeouts at the time he was promoted to Triple-A in August. He finished fourth overall in the minors with 172 punch-outs.
Armed with a pitching IQ that at least rivals Soroka’s, Anderson is at a telling stage of his career. The 21-year-old right-hander recorded 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings and issued 3.8 walks per nine while producing a 2.68 ERA in 21 starts for Double-A Mississippi in the 2019 season. He showed some fatigue while making five August starts for Triple-A Gwinnett. But the 2016 first-round Draft pick impressed veteran catchers during Spring Training, and he could soon get his first taste of the Major League level.
Fastball (60): Ian consistently gets his fastball up to 96 mph and he uses his 6-foot-3 frame well to develop a good angle and downhill movement. He’s shown the ability to both miss bats and get ground-ball outs over the years with the pitch.
Curveball (55): When Anderson lands this in the strike zone, it’s a plus power breaking pitch that has, and can, miss bats on a regular basis. He’ll subtract from it at times to command the pitch better, though that takes away some of its bite.
Changeup (55): Ian’s always had feel for his off-speed pitch and it’s only gotten better the more he’s committed to it as a pro, since he didn’t need it to get New York high school hitters out. It’s now a legitimate third at-least above-average offering in his repertoire.
Control (50): This is one area where Anderson has struggled a bit at times in his climb up the organizational ladder, and he really tried to do too much when he reached Triple-A last year, leading to a 6.6 BB/9 rate over five starts after making strides in Double-A prior to the promotion. He’s walked four per nine in his Minor League career, but he has the ability to repeat his delivery, and most feel he’ll have at least average command in time. The Braves were pleased with how well he attacked the zone with all of his pitches during his time in the alternate camp in Gwinnett this summer. (Mayo - mlb.com - 8/25/2020)
MLB debut (Aug 26, 2020): Ian produced a very memorable big league debut as the Braves claimed a 5-1 win over the Yankees at Truist Park in Cobb County, GA. Anderson held the Yankees hitless until Luke Voit hit a homer in the sixth inning. Voit’s homer ended up being the only hit allowed by Anderson, who totaled 90 pitches over six innings.
“Obviously my goal is to be here and stay here,” Anderson said. “Today, I was able to show that a little bit. I’m definitely looking forward to hopefully getting another shot at it and see what we can do from there.”
Anderson retired each of the first eight batters he faced and induced a double play after an error and a walk put two on with one out in the fourth. The 22-year-old leaned heavily on his four-seam fastball and changeup as he struck out six and displayed the poise the Braves have talked about since taking him with the third overall pick in the 2016 draft.
Per Elias, Anderson’s 5.1 no-hit innings was the longest bid in a debut since the Rays’ Brendan McCay also allowed his first hit with one out in the sixth inning of his June 29, 2019, debut against the Rangers. It was the longest such bid by any Braves pitcher in his debut since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966.
“It was pretty impressive,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He slowed [the game] down well. He had confidence in his pitches. He wasn’t afraid of anything, I know that. He trusted his stuff. He got in the strike zone with those guys and that was really, really fun to watch.”
Snitker admits he might have been a little more nervous as the innings unfolded had he not learned no-hitters wouldn’t count in seven-inning games. He would not have felt comfortable pushing Anderson beyond the 90 pitches he totaled.
“He was done after the sixth," Snitker said. “[Throwing] 90 pitches at the alternate [training] site and 90 pitches here against the New York Yankees is a completely different animal. But he didn’t seem spent when I went over to talk to him.”
“I thought he did a good job of attacking the strike zone and being a little bit unpredictable,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Anderson. “He had the advantage of us not seeing him much at all. I thought he did a good job when he did get behind in some counts of being unpredictable, the ability to strike his secondary pitches, but not being afraid to be aggressive with his fastball.”
So how was he feeling after this dominant debut? “I probably won’t take this smile off my face for a long time,” Anderson said. (M Bowman - MLB.com - Aug 26, 2020)
Top rookie Statcast performers of 2020
Best xBA (SP): Ian Anderson, Braves -- .184. Hitters mustered a paltry .172 average and .184 xBA against Anderson, who faced tough competition from Cristian Javier (.185 xBA), Adbert Alzolay (.186) and Tanner Houck (.188) for the top spot among rookie starters.
Best xSLG (SP): Ian Anderson -- .234. As was the case with Anderson’s BAA and xBA, there wasn’t a huge difference between the rookie right-hander’s .211 opponent slugging percentage and .234 xBA. Yes, he might have benefited from a smaller sample size, but it still was light years better than the next three names on the list: Sánchez (.323 xSLG), Houck (.335) and Rogers (.339).
Best xwOBA (SP): Ian Anderson -- .239. In case you still had any doubt regarding Anderson’s ability to limit hard contact, the young right-hander posted a .239 xwOBA and recorded a pair of one-hit performances in his six starts with the Braves. Javier (.256) and Sánchez (.262) also proved tough to hit and were key in helping the Astros and Marlins reach the postseason.
2020 Season: Ian was invaluable for the Braves’ decimated rotation. He was, without question, their most valuable rookie contributor.
Anderson earned a 1.95 ERA with a 41-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in six starts and 32.1 innings. He helped stabilize a rotation that lost several key members because of injury or ineffectiveness. From day one, he drew praise for his composure, maturity and aggressive mentality.
Anderson out-pitched Yankees ace Gerrit Cole in his big league debut, allowing one run over six innings in the Braves’ win. Anderson followed by defeating the Red Sox at Fenway Park in his second outing. He became the second pitcher in history to defeat the Yankees and Red Sox in his first two career starts, joining the Indians Luis Tiant in 1964.
“It’s hard to even put into words (how good Anderson was),” first baseman Freddie Freeman said after Anderson’s debut. “How he was acting in the clubhouse yesterday, acting calm and cool. He’s a chatty guy before he starts. Not one of the headphones, stay-at-his-locker kind of guys. Very loose and relaxed . . .
"He was ready for this start. You could tell that he was meant to pitch. We have a good one, right there.”
Ian exceeded five innings in four of six starts, allowing no more than three runs in any outing. He provided the team’s best start of the season on Sept. 12, when he held the Nationals to one hit over seven scoreless innings.
He had control issues at times in his big league debut. He issued three or more walks in three starts, but he showed an excellent ability to navigate trouble and mitigate damage.
Anderson's fastball/curveball combination met expectations, generating a large share of whiffs, while his changeup has continuously improved and at times looked like a potent third weapon. (Gabe Burns - Baseball America - Nov., 2020)
Oct 7, 2020: Anderson has become Atlanta’s latest postseason hero. The 22-year-old hurler has made just eight starts since reaching the Majors, but that inexperience has not affected him. He has thrown 11 2/3 scoreless innings over two postseason starts and moved the Braves a win away from reaching the NL Championship Series for the first time since 2001, when he was just 3 years old.
Anderson allowed three hits over 5.2 innings in Game 2 of the NLDS, with eight strikeouts, and has now fanned 17 through his first two career playoff starts. He joins former Brave Steve Avery as the only pitchers in big league history to put up five-plus scoreless innings with at least eight strikeouts in each of his first two career postseason appearances. In his postseason debut, in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series against the Reds, Anderson allowed two hits over six scoreless innings.
“I think I had more nerves today,” Anderson said. “I don’t know if it was the different site and seeing all the playoff stuff hanging up, but I was able to calm down and get in the groove of the game. It helped early on to get a couple guys on and get out of it.”
Anderson needed 24 pitches to get through the first inning, but he quickly settled in with the help of his trusty changeup. He got some comfort when Swanson homered off Marlins starter Pablo López in the second inning and d’Arnaud added a solo homer off López in the fourth. Ian’s day ended with a strikeout of Jesús Aguilar at the end of a 10-pitch battle with one on in the sixth. Darren O’Day then loaded the bases before getting former Brave Matt Joyce to ground out.
O’Day’s tension-filled effort came a few hours after he revealed he had nicknamed Anderson “Screech.” The nickname has drawn some laughs in the clubhouse, but the 37-year-old reliever was dismayed to learn the rookie had never heard of “Screech," a popular nerdy character from the 1990s sitcom “Saved by the Bell.”
“Maybe while I’m [in the bubble] I’ll have time to peek at that show and I’ll get back to you to let you know what I think about it,” Anderson said with a laugh.
Thanks to Anderson, the Braves’ life in a bubble might last at least another week. (M Bowman - MLb.com - Oct 8, 2020)
Called up in Sept., 2020, after the Braves’ rotation was eviscerated by injuries, Anderson was one of the game’s best pitchers in September and October. He allowed two earned runs in 18.2 innings. opening with three consecutive scoreless outings and starting Game 7 of the NLCS.
Dec 27, 2020: Ian Anderson, RHP, Braves
Key stat: 2.57 expected ERA
The Braves' top pitching prospect was called up and pitched like an ace for the NL East champs down the stretch, with a 1.95 ERA in the regular season and 0.96 ERA in the postseason. Anderson excelled by suppressing hitters' quality of contact. Of the 81 batted balls against him, only a single one was barreled, giving him MLB's lowest barrel rate at 1.2% (of the 200 pitchers with 75 or more batted balls against them).
Barrels generally go for home runs or extra bases, and Anderson essentially never allowed them. That's why his Statcast expected ERA (quality of contact allowed, strikeouts and walks) was just 2.57, the second-best xERA among starting pitchers who faced at least 100 batters in 2020 (Trevor Bauer). (D Adler - MLB.com - Dec 27, 2020)
2020 Season: With Mike Soroka and Cole Hamels missing much of the season due to injuries, the Braves were in great need of a rotation boost when they summoned Anderson from the Minors in late August. The 22-year-old righty obliged, recording a 1.95 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in 32 innings.
He not only posted a .172 batting average against and 11.4 K/9 rate in six regular-season starts (enough to get a ROY vote). And he was dominant in the postseason with a 0.96 ERA over four starts.