ATLANTA -- With a state semifinal berth on the line and Atlanta's top scouts in attendance on Saturday, Ian Anderson recorded 16 strikeouts over seven innings and essentially sealed the honor he gained early Thursday evening, when the Braves took him with the third overall pick in the MLB Draft.
"What really sealed the deal was the maturity of this young man at such a young age," said Braves scouting director Brian Bridges, who targeted Anderson as he pitched for Team USA last summer and then intently followed his progress as he had to overcome pneumonia and an oblique strain during his senior season at Shenendehowa High School (N.Y.).
Anderson developed a relationship with the Braves this past winter, when general manager John Coppolella and Bridges traveled to upstate New York to meet with the 6-foot-3, 170-pound pitcher and his family. The 18-year-old hurler is now looking forward to the chance to join the impressive stable of pitching prospects Atlanta has collected over the past couple years.
"I think with the success Atlanta has had with pitching, I think it will be a great relationship and the future is definitely looking bright," Anderson said.
The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
The selection of Anderson was the start of a successful day for the Braves, who followed by selecting high school left-handers Joey Wentz (40th overall) and Kyle Muller (44th) and University of California-Berkeley catcher Brett Cumberland (76th).
With Wentz, Anderson and Muller, the Braves selected three of MLB.com's top 25 available players in this year's Draft.
"This was a big victory for the Braves today," Bridges said. "When you're fortunate to get three of your first 20, you're happy."
Anderson, a Vanderbilt commit, expects to sign with the Braves shortly after his June 23 high school graduation. Given that he was never projected to be a top-five pick, the assumption is that he will sign below the $6.5 million slot figure assigned to this year's third selection. This would give the Braves financial flexibility to use one of the later picks to take a highly regarded prospect who may have fallen out of the first round because of signability issues.
Bridges obviously did not term this to be an "under-slot" selection, and he also provided indication that the club simply felt Anderson was a better fit than Mercer's Kyle Lewis, Louisville's Corey Ray or some of the other top available college position players who have the potential to quickly rise to the Majors and satisfy the club's need to start adding premium bats to the pipeline.
"I took the best pitcher available on the board -- that is what we felt as an organization and scouting department," Bridges said. "We feel like this guy better fits our organization moving forward."
Bridges used Mike Mussina as a comp for Anderson, who has a fastball that rests between 91-95 mph and good command of both his changeup and curveball. He has shown and advanced approach through his ability to move his fastball and consistently keep it down in the zone.
"I think pitching is a lost art," Bridges said. "A lot of kids throw for the radar gun and they don't learn the art of pitching. If you do learn the art and you have stuff, the road can be a lot shorter to the Major Leagues. There are humps in the road and things they have to go through. But this kid does have a head start with his ability to throw strikes."
Anderson spent Thursday touring New York City and Yankee Stadium with his parents, Bob and Karen, and his twin brother, Ben, who will serve as his catcher one last time during Saturday's state semifinal game. Then, of course, he experienced the thrill of being selected before A.J. Puk, Jason Groome and some of the other pitching prospects who drew more attention leading up to the Draft.
"Spending the whole day with [my parents] and being able to go through this with them, they've done a phenomenal job raising me and my brothers," Anderson said. "They're just really proud of us and it's really special to share it with them."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.