Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on June 4, 1997 · Page 38
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 38

Detroit, Michigan
Issue Date:
Wednesday, June 4, 1997
Page 38
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4D DETROIT FREE PRESSWEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 1997 j . , 1, ' Top pick embracing challenge BY JOHN LOWE Frer lYess Sports Writer OAKLAND, Calif. Matt Anderson comes snorting out of the bullpen with some simple philosophies: All or nothing. You or me. Here it is. "Every pitch you throw could mean you win or lose the game," said Anderson, explaining what he likes about being a ninth-inning closer. The game is pretty much on your shoulders. I can't imagine not going after a hitter. There's a lot of glory to gain and you also might have to deal with negatives." Anderson, whom the Tigers selected with the top pick in Tuesday's draft, has the ideal tool to play ninth-inning roulette. It's an overpowering fastball that has gained several miles per hour in the three years since he wasn't drafted out of high school. He reportedly has been clocked at 99 m.p.h., and so naturally he was asked about throwing 100 m.p.h., a domain belonging to Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan, Atlanta's Mark Wohlers and perhaps few others. "I guess it's a pretty big goal," Anderson said at Tiger Stadium. "I guess I'm kind of a Wohlers-type pitcher. "I guess we both throw pretty hard. He's a great pitcher, and I hope I can be on his level someday." "Fast" describes his pitches. . . . Fast could describe his ascent through the Tigers' farm system. . . . But fast might not describe the negotiations to sign him. Anderson, a junior at Rice University, refuses to indicate how much .H V-r r , 1 i . 4 ll , ' - v- - Anderson crucial to Tigers' vision NICO TOUTENHOOFDDetroit Free Press Matt Anderson's biggest fans celebrate at Tiger Stadium: From left, sister Becky, coach Wayne Graham, father Larry, mother Dessie. money he might seek, even when last year's market-busting free-agent sign-ings are mentioned. Last year's top pick, Kris Benson, received $2 million from Pittsburgh, the most ever for a player from the team that drafted him. But when four first-round picks last year used a technicality to become free agents, two of them, Matt White and Travis Lee, received $10 million apiece. "You kind of think about that stuff," Anderson said. "At the same time, it was a pretty unique situation. You don't know where it's going to n go. Anderson has retained as his advisers the Houston-based Hendricks brothers, among the most successful agents for big-league players. Anderson said he didn't tell the Hen-drickses or his father before the draft about how much money he would want to sign. Alan Hendricks wasn't ready Tuesday to comment on the upcoming negotiations. Anderson said he didn't have any idea how long the negotiations will take. "As long as it M's pick 'other' Anderson RYAN, from Page ID Some teams might have been put off by Anderson's off-field behavior. In March, he was accused of stealing wrist bands for a friend from a sporting goods store. Charges were dropped. The Mariners are counting on Anderson to become another valued first-round pick. The team's first-round selections include Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez, and the Mariners put Anderson in that company. Seattle scouting director Roger Jongewaard said that on a standard big-league rating scale of 20-80, the Mariners had Anderson at 70 the same as they had for Griffey. The big-league average is 50. The Mariners were shocked that he was still available, Jongewaard said. Woody Woodward, the Mariners' vice president of baseball operations, agreed. "We're very pleased that Ryan slipped down to No. 19. He's a fine talent and we see him as another Randy Johnson, who can consistently throw in the 90s." The Mariners have 15 days in which to make Anderson a contract offer, or he becomes a free agent. If he signs, Anderson expects to report next month to Class A Peoria in the short-season Arizona League. "It's been a hectic week, but we're happy as hell," said Gus Anderson, Ryan's father. "We've been strung through a ringer with the Tigers, and it really got to me last week." Anderson now has a chance to pitch with his boyhood ideal, Mariners flamethrower Randy Johnson, with whom he shares some similarities: Both are 6-foot-10 left-handers. (Anderson has been listed as 6-11, but he said Tuesday he's fHOW.) Johnson's nickname is the Big Unit; teammates call Anderson the Young Unit. Johnson throws around 100 m.p.h.; Anderson has been clocked at 95 m.p.h. Both players wear No. 51. Anderson's selection gives the Mariners the two tallest players in baseball history. Anderson met Johnson before a game at Tiger Stadium in April and plans to attend the Mariners' games in Detroit this weekend. . Johnson said he never has seen Anderson pitch, but from what he understands, "He throws hard and he's more advanced than I was at the same age." Baseball America editor Allan Simpson said some teams held back on highly rated players because clubs feared they would be tough to sign. "From my understanding there were a lot of factors with him dropping," Simpson said of Anderson. "His makeup certainly entered into it, but not totally. Then there's the question on whether or not a player will sign. Teams are a little gun-shy now and aren't willing to roll the dice if they don't think they have a handle on getting that player signed." The last time a projected top pick fell far in the draft was in 1990. That year, Todd Van Poppel tumbled to No. 14. The Braves chose Chipper Jones with the first pick, and Van Poppel went to the Oakland Athletics. This year, four of Baseball America's top five high school prospects went later than expected. Rick Ankiel, a left-hander from Port St. Lucie, Fla., went to St. Louis with the 72nd pick. Outfielder Darnell McDonald of Englewood, Colo., was still around for Baltimore at No. 26; and the Yankees drafted outfielder Tyrell Goodwin of Elizabeth-town, N.C., with the No. 24 pick. Free Press sports writer John Lowe contributed to this report. STATE AID A history of first-round picks from Michigan schools: m 1965:BernieCarbo, 3B, Livonia HS, Cincinnati (16th overall). 1966: Jim DeNeff, SS, Indiana U., Holland HS, California (8). Rick Konik, IB, Detroit St. Andrew, Tigers (14). 1967: John Mayberry, IB, Detroit Northwestern, Houston (6). Ted Simmons, C, Southfield HS, St. Louis (10). 1971: Frank Tanana, LHP, Detroit Catholic Central, California (13). Sugar Bear Daniels, RHP, Detroit Mackenzie, Oakland (17). 1975: Chris Knapp, RHP, CMU, St. Joseph HS.ChiSox (11). David Johnson, LHP, Gaylord HS, St. Louis (16). 1976: Bob Owchinko, LHP, EMU, Detroit Cody, San Diego (5) . Jim Parke, RHP, Utica Ford, Pittsburgh (21). 1977: Kevin Richards, RHP, Wyandotte Roosevelt, Tigers (5). David Hibner, SS, Howell HS, Texas (9). Bob Welch, RHP, Eastern Michigan U Hazel Park HS, Los Angeles (20). 1978: Kirk Gibson, OF, MSU, Waterford Kettering, Tigers (12). 1979: Rick Leach, OF, U-M, Flint Southwestern, Tigers (13). Steve Howe, LHP, U-M, Clarkston, Los Angeles (16). Chris Baker, OF, Livonia Franklin, Tigers (23). Steve Perry, RHP, U-M, Ann Arbor Pioneer, Los Angeles (25). 1985: Dan Gabrlele, RHP, Walled Lake Western, Boston (21). . 1987: Kevin Gardner, RHP-OF, U. of Texas, Midland HS, San . Diego (10). 1988: Steve Avery, LHP, Taylor Kennedy, Atlanta (3). Jim Abbott, LHP, U-M, Flint Central, California (8). 1992: Derek Jeter, SS, Kalamazoo Central, NY Yankees (6) . 1997: Ryan Anderson, LHP, Dearborn Divine Child, Seattle (19). takes both sides to be comfortable with the situation," Anderson said. Anderson, 20, is one of five children from a family in Louisville, Ky. His father is an attorney. Matt chose Rice because his parents favored a school with strong academics. He was primarily a reliever in his first two Rice seasons, and this season he became full-time in the bullpen. Anderson is working on an ultra-finesse pilch, the knuckle-curve, and a circle change-up. But a pitcher who throws as hard as Anderson doesn't need much besides a fastball. Anderson, whose windup is described as hcrky-jerky, acknowledged that his mechanics are different. "Up until now, I'm doing all right," he said, "so I'm not going to change them." You or me, here it is. Free Press sports writer Stan Dorsey contributed to this report. Top Pick, from Page ID Seattle took him with the 19th pick. "Ryan has a high ceiling (but) there are some things he has to work on," Smith said. "As to why he wasn't drafted higher, I don't know. We wish him nothing but the besL" Did the Tigers make Ryan Anderson a finalist merely because he was local? Tigers president John McIIale said no. "He would have been a finalist if he wasn't from here," McHale said. "His talent, his left-handedness and his future potential all were scouted quite objectively." The Tigers had enough traditional baseball reasons for choosing Matt Anderson. The question that might linger forever is whether the Tigers might have chosen Ryan Anderson if he had a spotless record of off-field conduct Ryan Anderson has been involved in a series of unflattering incidents and alleged incidents in recent months. As soon as the team announced Matt Anderson's selection, he appeared in a Tigers tap and jersey at a Tiger Stadium press conference with Smith. Now the task is to get him into a uniform for real. The first thing we have to do is get him signed," Smith said. "My guess is that he will start in A ball, probably at West Michigan." Smith said he hasn't talked financial figures with Anderson, but is optimistic that the Tigers will sign the pitcher. "You just get a feel for people," he said. Smith said he expects Anderson will get "the highest bonus of any player ever drafted." The biggest bonus ($2 million) for a drafted player went to right-handed pitcher Kris Benson, who signed with the Pirates last season. Travis Lee and Matt White became free agents through a technicality last year and got $10-million bonuses. "I don't think you hang your hat on something like that," Smith said. Not including the College World Series where he recently had two rough outings Anderson was 10-1 with a 1.82 ERA and nine saves. He allowed 44 hits in 74 V4 innings and struck out 97. But there's no formula for using college statistics to project big-league statistics. College baseball is regarded as somewhere in the neighborhood of high Class A (where Anderson might start his pro career), but not as good as Double-A Anderson became a full-time closer this year, and he appeared to add a few miles an hour to his fastball, said an opposing player, Matt Howe of Texas Christian. Howe is the son of Oakland manager Art Howe. "His delivery is herky-jerky, and it makes it hard to pick the ball up," Matt Howe said. The best arm in the draft," Randy Smith said of Matt Anderson. The on-field reasons for selecting Matt Anderson over Ryan Anderson include the following: Ryan Anderson is a starter. The Tigers have plenty of starters coming up through their system, but they don't have anyone they're sure can be the closer an essential on almost any championship team. Having pitched three years in college, Matt Anderson is easier to project as a finished big-league project. Ryan Anderson might have greater potential than Matt Anderson, but he's just leaving high school, so he stands further from his full potential than Matt Anderson does from his. Although Ryan Anderson's height and fastball prompt comparisons with Seattle's overwhelming 6-foot-10 Randy Johnson, Matt Anderson is 6-4, a height regarded as nearly ideal for a power pitcher. Matt Anderson is big enough to be powerful, but small enough to maintain the compactness of delivery which ensures pitching precision. ANOTHER BOONL The Tigers broke with majort: .league policy and announced all 20 picks they made Tuesday. For years, clubs hate been required only to announce their first-round pick until a few weeks after the draft, supposedly to keep drafted players from comparing their signing bonuses. The Tigers chose a notable name with their third-round pick: Matthew Boone, a third baseman from Villa Park, Calif., and the brother of Cincinnati second baseman Bret Boone, who made the Boones the first three-generation family in big-league history. Matthew and Bret's grandfather, Ray, played for the Tigers, and their father, Bob, was a longtime big-league catcher. The majors' only other three-generation family is the Bells: Gus, Buddy (the Tigers manager) and David (a Cardinals infielder). Buddy's youngest son, Ricky, was eligible for Tuesday's draft. Ricky, a shortstop, was drafted in the third round by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Free Press sports writers Gene Guidi and Stan Dorsey contributed. Net great sarongs with the best checMmg team In town. I -IS U : K tf . n ,! l( : ' I U ; - t W- 'fr 1 1 V. ."ill - -V !. Mi if A Standard Federal Checking Account nets you great savings. We offer a variety of ways to help you avoid monthly service charges. One of your options is a Free Homeowner's Checking Account. With Free Homeowner's Checking, there's no minimum balance requirement and no per-check fees to pay, no matter how many checks you write. YouU start saving money the day you open your account. And now, you get even more: we'll give you 30 minutes of prepaid long distance time when you open any Standard Federal Checking Account Spend it whenever and however you like. Helping You Along The Way. Call a friend. Give it to your kids to call home from school. Take it on a business trip, You can even call Philadelphia.. .it's up to you! 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