Tournaments | Story | 7/13/2015

Anderson rises to the occasion

Chris Garcia        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga. – The 2015 16u WWBA National Championship tournament has been full of excitement thus far, and it’s only going to get better with pool play coming to an end. At this point in the tournament, many teams control their own destiny, and winning Monday's fourth game is crucial.

Not only does this tournament have close races in the pools so far, but it has also shown us a new wave of talent. The next generation of great ballplayers are on the fields in and around the LakePoint complex in Emerson; some of them we are very aware of, considering they may have blossomed early and shined at prestigious underclass events, and others may be late bloomers who have yet to make the big jump from average to elite.

Either way, this tournament is an opportunity to make a splash in the recruiting scene.

One player who isn’t too worried about making that splash is righthander Ian Anderson of the Clifton Park Knights. Anderson has already been on the radar of many top Division I schools for a while now, considering he has been projecting, and living up to those projections, over the last year or so. Anderson has already verbally declared that he intends to play ball at Vanderbilt University; that is, unless Anderson receives an MLB signing bonus that he simply can’t turn down next year.

The possibility of getting drafted may have crossed Anderson’s mind once or twice, given that he is already touching 95 mph and hasn’t even begun his senior year of high school, but he is the type of player who just takes it one day at a time.

Vanderbilt nabbing one of the best pitchers in the country is no surprise, and seems to be a trend over the last few years. It makes sense, seeing as they churn out first-round draft picks like nobody else’s business; most notably, David Price from a few years back, and Carson Fulmer as their latest product. Anderson certainly fits the bill as a future MLB pitcher, seeing as he has a lanky 6-foot-4 inch body and a ceiling that seems to be never ending. He seeks to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and achieve greatness.

Anderson had many opportunities to go to play at other schools, but he made his decision early based on the feeling he got when he took his visit to Nashville. He feels that it will be easy to make Vanderbilt his new home next year.

The family atmosphere that I got when I went there was great,” Anderson said of his visit to Vanderbilt. “Coach (Scott) Brown and Coach (Tim) Corbin are great. It was one of those things where I went there and I just fell in love with it. They also get a lot of Northeast guys there, so I was really comfortable with it. The pitcher’s lab is pretty crazy too.”

Having already made his decision, Ian doesn’t feel the pressure of the looming scouts that watch his every move in and out of the dugout. He just goes out there and plays his game.

I think being already committed takes a lot of pressure off me,” Anderson added with a cool and calm demeanor. “I just go out there with my friends and try to win ball games.”

Head Coach of the Knights, Tom Huerter, has had the opportunity to watch Anderson develop as a ballplayer over the last few years and he could not be more impressed with his talent and intelligence. Huerter feels that Anderson’s work ethic and composure is what sets him apart from other top prospects in the country.

He’s a great kid. He’s a humble kid and comes from a great family,” Herter said. “He’s very close with this team, and they know how to bust on each other, but they know come game time, it’s time to compete. They like nothing more than backing Ian up; when he’s on the mound, the team is very confident. They’ve won a lot of games, and Ian has been on the mound for a lot of those wins. He’s got the composure, confidence, and the stuff. He believes in his mechanics, so when you have all of that stuff and an arm that lets you throw 95, good things will happen.

His work ethic really makes him special. He developed a little bit late, and in the baseball world, people would say he came out of nowhere. We have known about him, he just matured a little bit later, but he’s also worked hard on his mechanics and strength training. He’s also got an approach that far better than any other pitcher in our area. He’s got a live arm, but then couple that with an extremely hard work ethic and him being an extremely smart kid, and you have someone with an extremely bright future.”

Anderson’s hard work has paid off, as on Monday his name was announced as one of the participants in the 2015 Perfect Game All-American Classic that will be played at Petco Park on Sunday, August 16. Anderson could not be more honored to receive the selection, and is very excited to be playing in a game that he has been dreaming of having the opportunity to play in since he was a kid.

I was so excited to get selected. I went down to PG National and threw two innings there, and then they called me over and told me and I was ecstatic,” Anderson said of the honor. “I’ve been watching it on TV for the last few years, so it’s sick to be able to be played in it. I think my PG National showing factored into that selection. You go over there and play against the best talent, and if you do well, then it really boosts your confidence. It’s good to know where you stand.

For the All-American game, really, I just want to have fun. It’s for a good cause, and I’m looking forward to that. I want to make the most of it, and I’ve never been to California so that should be awesome. It’s always fun playing against the top players.”

He is thrilled to be playing in the Classic, but Anderson is a no-nonsense kind of guy, and knows that he has to take care of the task at hand; trying to win ball games here at the 2015 16u WWBA National Championship.

The Clifton Park Knights are off to a fantastic start so far, winning their first three games by a pretty large margin; even featuring a no-hitter behind the arm of Brooks Knapek in their first game. They followed that up with a pair of wins on Monday, leading to a 5-0 start to pool play.

Anderson was handed the ball for his first start of the tournament on Sunday night against the Dallas Tigers, and was absolutely dominant. He went five innings, with nine strikeouts and only allowed two hits and one earned run. He should be able to throw again later in this tournament if needed, and is happy that his team has started off this tournament with an undefeated record.

Anderson knows what his team is capable of and believes in their ability to win out and advance to the playoffs.

I think we definitely have the players to where we can go out and win the pool. We have some uncommitted guys who are very hungry, and they are looking to get looks. They definitely put the team first, but they’re out here trying to prove something. Being from the Northeast, you kind of have that mentality because everyone doubts you. We want to go out there and show everyone what we are about.”

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