Imagine, for a moment, a first baseman/corner outfielder playing at Triple-A in 2013. Over the course of the season, that player posted a .292/.372/.459 batting line. Criticized for his poor plate discipline, he improved his strikeout to walk rate from 26 walks and 56 strikeouts to 50 walks against 58 strikeouts. Meanwhile, he added a bit of power, producing eight more extra base hits while driving in almost 20 more runs. It may appear as though that player could prove to be a serviceable major league part, maybe not as a starter, but as a bench option playing two or three times a week.
That player above? None other than the much maligned Leslie Anderson. Anderson, who represented the Rays biggest foray into international free agency, has spent the past three and a half years at Durham, waiting for his opportunity. Despite potential holes at first base and outfield over the past couple of years, Anderson was never able to crack the roster. Perhaps his best chance came this Spring Training, when he caught the eye of Joe Maddon and produced a .396/.420/.583 batting line as he led the Rays in batting average during the Grapefruit League. However, the Rays bypassed Anderson for Shelley Duncan at the start of the year.
At that point, Anderson’s fate appeared set. A player who had arrived with so much promise and the expectation that he would be a contributor for the Rays at the major league level had officially become nothing more than minor league filler, a major disappointment for the organization. Yet, Anderson plugged away, and while he had a lower batting average than last season, improved virtually everywhere else.
Now that the Durham Bulls are playing in the International League finals for the Governor’s Cup, Anderson may be in his final week as a member of the Rays organization. At 31 years old, he may still be able to land a job on a team in need of depth in the outfield and first base, and could well find himself making his long awaited major league debut sometime next season. it just will likely not be with the Rays.
Things just did not work out with Leslie Anderson and the Rays. In another week, that chapter may be officially closed, and Anderson can continue forth in pursuit of fulfilling his major league dreams