The number 18 prospect in the system was one of the biggest disappointments of the 2012 minor league season, as despite impressive reports entering the year he completely fell apart mechanically and statistically.
Name: Jacob Anderson
Position: Right Field
Date of Birth: 11/22/1992 (20)
Acquired: Selected in the Supplemental 1st round of the 2011 draft ($990,000 USD)
High School: Chino High School (Chino, California)
College: Had commitment to Pepperdine
Height/Weight: 6’4”/195 lbs
Awards and Accomplishments:
- Ranked 10th on 2012 Top 30 prospects list
- 2011 Rawlings 2nd Team All-American
- 2011 California All-Region 1st Team
2012 Statistics and Analysis
191 AB, .194/.271/.304 (.575 OPS), 10 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 3 SB, 11/72 BB/K
For Jacob Anderson, expectations entering the 2012 season were sky high. Not only was he a first round draft pick – the Blue Jays highest selection to agree to terms after Tyler Beede chose Vanderbilt, but he demolished the Gulf Coast League in a two week stint at the end of the 2011 season. Bluefield was the perfect destination for his level of development, and he was on a roster loaded with high upside talent. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned. Anderson got off to a dreadful start in June, and failed to reach the .600 OPS mark in any of his three months. The problem was a complete inability to make contact, as his 72 strikeouts led the team by 12, and were the fourth most in the entire Appalachian League. To put his 33.5% strikeout rate into perspective, throughout his career strikeout king Adam Dunn has whiffed in just 28.2% of his plate appearances. While it’s below what is expected of a corner outfielder, Anderson’s 37.8% extra base hit rate is a positive sign in what was otherwise a completely lost season. There is some potency in his bat, and as is often the case with young hitters, once his struggles began to pile up he became his own worst enemy.
Video (via MLBProspectPortal.com)
Anderson sets himself at the plate with a wide base and open stance, and keeps his hands high and his lead shoulder tightly closed as he readies for the pitch. His timing mechanism is a small toe tap, and he shows a lot of hip fluidity as he rotates and pulls the bat through the zone. Anderson’s height gives him a lot of natural leverage, and he translates that into impressive bat speed. The swing plane is fairly level and line drive oriented, as he has enough natural power that an uppercut isn’t necessarily to clear fences. He’s aggressive at the plate, which has made him susceptible to breaking balls early in his career.
The first thing that jumps out about Jacob Anderson is his athleticism, particularly given his size. His actions are very smooth and quick, and he has posted above average times in the 60 yard dash. It does take him a few strides to get up to full speed, however, so his base stealing numbers aren’t likely to be spectacular. The Blue Jays have used him almost exclusively in right field since agreeing to terms late in the summer of 2011, but the alignment is more than a little peculiar. Anderson reads the flight of balls well and is a sound defender, but his arm is far better suited to left field. In addition to having fringe-average arm strength, his accuracy comes and goes, his throwing mechanics are awkward, and he doesn’t set himself up to get momentum behind his throws very well. Anderson also has experience on the infield, as he played some first base in high school.
What makes Anderson such an intriguing prospect is his potential at the plate. He has strength to go along with his athleticism, and should continue to get stronger as he matures into his twenties as he has broad shoulders and thick, muscular legs. The strength, bat speed, and leverage in his swing allows for easy plus projections on the raw power, as Anderson should be more than capable of 25-30 home runs annually if his bat allows. That’s where the problems arise, as despite having a good swing, Anderson’s mind can betray him. Too often he’s the athlete not the baseball player, and pitchers take advantage by outthinking him in the box. He has the talent to be an average hitter, but he has a lot of pieces to put together before getting there.
The perfect world projection for Jacob Anderson would be a dynamic everyday corner outfielder who hits in the meat of the lineup; first division starter.
2013 Outlook, Risk, and ETA
While the ceiling on Anderson is sky high because of his athleticism, the risk is just as high due to his lack of baseball polish. The 2012 season was so disappointing for him developmentally that he could very well find himself back in Bluefield to open short season ball in June. For both he and the team, it would be beneficial if Anderson could get off to a hot start in rookie ball, so the organization could justify quickly bumping him up to Vancouver where they likely wanted him in the first place. If everything goes according to plan, I could see Anderson reaching as high as Lansing at some point in August. The California native is clearly further behind than originally thought, so it could be a long and arduous process trying to get him to Toronto. The absolute best case scenario would see Anderson reach the major leagues in early 2017 as a 24 year old. The risk factor is off the charts.