Anderson homers in three-hit day in AFL rout

Marlins' No. 4 prospect lifts his Fall League average to .393

Anderson homers in three-hit day in AFL rout

MESA, Ariz. -- Brian Anderson can play different positions in the field, but he knows that his bat is his real ticket to stardom if he's going to make it to the Major Leagues.

Anderson, the Marlins' No. 4 prospect, had that bat working well and plenty of help from his teammates on Wednesday afternoon as his Mesa Solar Sox routed the visiting Peoria Javelinas, 12-5, at Sloan Park.

Anderson, who was selected by the Marlins in the third round of the 2014 Draft after a standout career at the University of Arkansas, hit a solo home run to dead center field to lead off his team's four-run second inning that effectively put the game away. Anderson also chipped in with two more singles to up his AFL batting average to .393.

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"I got to two strikes, and he'd gotten me out in front on a couple of off-speed pitches," Anderson said. "He tried to go inside with a fastball and just kind of left it middle. Really, I was just trying to put something in play hard on a line, and he made a mistake and I was able to put a good swing on it."

Anderson, 23, showed versatility throughout the infield at Arkansas (he played first base Wednesday), but his offensive potential is what got him selected so high in the Draft. So far, he's ascended through the Minor League ranks at an impressive clip despite a few stumbles along the way.

He hit 11 homers in his first taste of pro ball in 2014, then struggled at Class A Advanced Jupiter the following year. Anderson rebounded in 2016, however, parlaying a strong start at Jupiter into a May promotion to Double-A Jacksonville and now his sensational AFL start.

"Last year I got thrown into the fire a little bit," Anderson said. "This year, they told me early that they were going to send me out here and get some more ABs, kind of work on fielding different positions and stuff, so I think I'm a little bit more mentally prepared and a little more confident in my abilities this year.

"I'm just trying to go out and have fun, see good pitches, hit good pitches and play good defense."

Otherwise, there was plenty of hitting going around for Anderson's Mesa dugout mates on Wednesday.

Left fielder Anthony Alford, the Blue Jays' No. 3 prospect, got his team off to a rollicking start in the first inning against Peoria starter Seth Varner (Cincinnati Reds), tripling in two runs, and then padded his AFL stats with an RBI single.

Other standouts for Mesa included second baseman Ian Happ, the Cubs' No. 1 prospect and MLBPipeline's No. 21 prospect, who went 3-for-5 with a double, catcher Danny Jansen, Toronto's No. 30 prospect, who was 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs, and Oakland's No. 7 prospect, third baseman Yairo Munoz, who was 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Starter Dylan Covey, the Athletics' No. 19 prospect, did his job, giving up one run on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.

On an otherwise quiet afternoon for Peoria, a few players managed to shine.

Mariners outfielder Guillermo Heredia went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs, all on a bases-clearing double in Peoria's four-run ninth inning. Catcher Nick Ciuffo, Tampa Bay's No. 25 prospect, added two hits, including an RBI single.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.