Braves agree with top Draft pick Anderson

Braves agree with top Draft pick Anderson

ATLANTA -- A little more than two weeks after taking Ian Anderson with the third overall selection in the MLB Draft, the Braves welcomed the highly-touted right-handed pitcher to Turner Field on Saturday to spend some pregame time with Atlanta's Major Leaguers and to sign his first professional contract.
 
According to MLB.com's Jim Callis, Anderson agreed to a $4 million signing bonus. The young right-hander's willingness to sign for $2.5 million less than the figure slotted for the third overall selection helped give the Braves the financial flexibility they needed to also select two other highly-regarded high school pitchers -- Joey Wentz and Kyle Muller -- while staying within the boundaries of their salary bonus pool.

2016 Draft signing and bonus tracker

"Any time you can get three prep pitchers [within the first 44 selections], it's pretty impressive," Anderson said. "To do anything I could to help that out and still sign for what was going to help me out was huge."

The Braves have signed 32 of their Draft picks, including each of their first 10 and 27 of their first 30. Ninth-round selection Tyler Neslony could soon join this list. Neslony and his Texas Tech teammates were eliminated from the College World Series earlier this week.

2016 Braves Draft picks

Braves scouting director Brian Bridges began targeting Anderson, Wentz and Muller as they played last summer on a Tournament of Stars team that helped determine who would be a part of Team USA. Bridges never envisioned being able to land each of these three talented pitchers, who all ranked among MLB.com's Top 25 available prospects leading into this year's Draft.
 
But once Anderson was willing to sign under-slot, the Braves began devising the plan that ultimately enabled them to provide over-slot contracts to both Wentz, who was taken with the 40th overall selection and Muller, who was taken with the 44th overall selection.

"They're imposing kids," Anderson said. "They're both 6-foot-5 and 220 [pounds]. But they're great kids and great pitchers. I'm looking forward to bonding with them."

Anderson was not permitted to sign until he graduated from Shenendehowa (N.Y.) High School on Thursday. Now the 18-year-old hurler will travel to the Braves' Spring Training complex on Sunday to be reunited with Wentz and Muller, both of whom will also begin their pro careers with the Gulf Coast League Braves.

"I know they're rebuilding and I know they're doing it the right way," Anderson said. "[General manager John Coppolella] and Bridges said, 'We're going to do this the right way,' and that they wanted me to be a big part of it. So, I'm looking forward to it."

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. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound hurler recorded 16 strikeouts in a playoff game and then tossed seven scoreless innings to secure a state championship on June 11.

"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."

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.