Tampa Bay Rays Face Off Vs. Ex-Draft Pick Cody Anderson

By Robbie Knopf

Today, the Tampa Bay Rays will send Alex Colome to the mound to take on Cleveland Indians right-hander Cody Anderson, who will be making his major league debut. You probably have not heard the name “Cody Anderson” in a Rays context before, but it is actually quite appropriate that his initial big league outing will come against the Rays. After all, they drafted him in the 17th round of the 2010 MLB Draft before the Indians drafted him again and signed him in 2011.

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Baseball America is the most respected public available scouting source at this point, but they didn’t know what to make of Anderson back in 2010. They described him as a “switch-hitter with some strength” who lacked a position to play on the field. However, the Rays knew something more and wound up selecting him as a right-handed pitcher. He was moonlighting as a reliever at Feather River Junior College, and they saw him hit as high as 92 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball. Between that and his imposing 6’4″, 225 frame, the Rays thought he had a chance to be an impact major league pitcher.

Unfortunately for the team, Anderson was indecisive about his future at that time. He was considering going on a Mormon mission (the Rays actually drafted a player who went on such a mission this year), and his signing bonus demands went beyond what the Rays were willing to pay for him. They thought he was interesting, but in a draft where they had to sign first rounder Josh Sale, supplemental first rounders Drew Vettleson and Justin O’Conner, and fourth rounder Jesse Hahn (who would require an above-slot $525,000 bonus), ponying up the money to sign him didn’t make sense.

The next season, however, Anderson took a huge step forward, getting his fastball up to 96 MPH. Teams’ uncertainty about his willingness to sign still dropped him to the Cleveland Indians in the 14th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, but they gave him $250,000, which was the slot bonus for a late third round draft pick. That move quickly began to look astute for the Indians. Anderson cracked their top 30 prospect list after the 2012 season and became their #5 prospect after 2013. He struggled last season, but he rebounded this year on his way to his promotion today.

The Tampa Bay Rays could use Cody Anderson right now as starting depth, but it isn’t as though he has major upside. He has been considered a potential number four starter thanks to that same good fastball and two iffy secondary pitches, a curveball and a slider. He also throws a changeup, but it has never turned into much of anything–we have to imagine that would be different if Anderson had signed with the Rays. In any event, Anderson has apparently looked better in 2015 thanks to an improved workout regimen and a new two-seam fastball, and he will hope to exceed his current projections.

Will Cody Anderson make the Rays wish they had signed him or will the Rays do their best to ensure that his first big league call-up will be a short one? This game should be fun as the Rays hope to sweep the Indians.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Austin Pruitt Tosses 8 Shutout IP