Brett Anderson may only be a year-and-a-half removed from high school, but many around baseball already see big things for the precocious left-hander. Anderson sliced through the Midwest League as a teenager last season, posting a 2.21 ERA and striking out 85 against only 10 walks in 81.1 innings. Those numbers earned Anderson a mid-season promotion to the California League, where his ERA was higher (4.85 ERA), but he still posted an impressive 40:11 K:BB ratio in 39 innings.
The Oakland A’s liked what they saw out of Anderson in 2007 and they acquired him as part of the package sent to Oakland from the Arizona Diamondbacks for right-handers Dan Haren and Connor Robertson. We recently spoke to Anderson about his thoughts on the trade, his approach to pitching and the influence his father [Oklahoma State head coach Frank Anderson] has had on his pitching career…
OaklandClubhouse: How did you hear about the trade?
Brett Anderson: I was actually working out when I heard. I didn’t have my phone around. My dad was around kind of watching things and he got a call from my agent giving him a heads-up that the trade might be happening and something was probably going to go down. He didn’t know if it was going to be a three-team trade with the Astros and that was where I was going to be sent or if it was just going to be a trade between the Diamondbacks and the A’s. So that was how I first heard about it, when I was working out and my dad got a call from my agent.
OC: How are you feeling about changing organizations? I know it can be hard for a player to be traded. Are you excited about the opportunity?
BA: Yeah. I’m definitely excited. It might have been a little different if I had been playing with the Diamondbacks for four or five years, but I’m coming off of my first year. I was just getting used to pro ball and the Diamondbacks organization, so I’ll be coming to the A’s fresh after only one year in pro ball. It’s not too big of a deal. I’m excited about going to a new organization and a good team. I think it would be a little tougher if I had stayed four or five years in one organization.
OC: Has anyone with the A’s contacted you at this point?
BA: Yeah, the Assistant General Manager [David Forst]. I also talked to Huston Street. He played for my dad in college, so I have some connections with the A’s.
OC: Did they talk to you much about what the organization is like and that sort of thing?
BA: Not really. They said they would call again later this week after everything had settled down. The conversation [with David Forst] was just to tell me that the trade was going down and to tell me who all was involved. It wasn’t really about what is going to happen next year. It was more just about the trade itself.
OC: You obviously had a lot of success during your first pro season. How did you feel at the end of the year after throwing that many innings ? Did you feel like you could keep up with that pace or are you going to have to make adjustments for that type of workload next season?
BA: I kind of used this season as sort of a guidepost to see what it was like to go from playing 40 high school games to playing 144 games and starting every five days. I’ll make some tweaks to adjust to pitching every five games next season. Hopefully, I’ll be able to pitch more innings next year, maybe 150 innings.
Overall, I felt it was a pretty good year. I had a good first half in the Midwest League. I did okay in the Cal League. I feel like I could have done a little bit better, but I was young for that league. Hopefully, if I go back there, I’ll prove myself in that level. Or, if things work out, I’ll go to Double-A.
OC: Was there anything you learned in particular from the jump from Low-A to High-A? The ballparks are a lot harder for pitchers in the Cal League, but how was it different facing hitters in that league?
BA: It was definitely more advanced. The Midwest League has a lot of high school guys and younger guys. Then I got to the Cal League and the ball just flies, which changes your approach a little bit. You have to adjust to the more advanced hitters in the Cal League, as well. They are college guys who take a lot more pitches and work the count and stuff like that. There was definitely some getting used to that.
On the other hand, my stats [in the Cal League] would have been pretty much the same as in the Midwest League, except for one or two bad outings, so it wasn’t a horrible adjustment. For the most part, it was just getting used to guys who work counts who challenge you more.
BA: Yeah. I had a concussion and some chipped teeth, but it wasn’t really anything major. The guy next to me, he really got hurt pretty bad, but I was fortunate that I didn’t get hurt too badly.
OC: How would you describe yourself as a pitcher? Is there a player that you like to mimic when you are out on the mound?
BA: No, I don’t really have one particular pitcher that I like to pattern myself after. All of us lefties like to stick together a little bit, so I like to watch a lot of left-handed pitchers. Oakland has had some good ones in the past, like [Barry] Zito and [Mark] Mulder, and I liked to watch those guys.
My style is that I am not going to overpower you. I’m probably right at about 90, 91 with my fastball. My big thing is that I throw strikes. I like to keep a fast pace, throw strikes and try to get as many hitters out as early and often as possible. I am really aggressive and throw a lot of strikes.
OC: Has your dad influenced you with his coaching background and the success that he has had with younger players?
BA: Definitely a lot. Early on growing up, he wasn’t around as much because he was recruiting out on the road, trying to get players for the teams he coached. As I got older, it wasn’t so much the coaching, it was being around the ballpark that really influenced me. I think I was around the ballpark more than anyone else I knew who was my age. I would go to the field every day to watch guys play and try to do what the guys who had had success did. I also tried to learn from guys who had had failures. So I don’t think it was so much the baseball teaching as much as it was being around the game that helped me to learn the intricacies of baseball.
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