With first basemen Michael Flacco called up to Delmarva and Tyler Kolodny’s season ended by a wrist injury, Aberdeen’s first baseman position becomes David Anderson’s. Anderson, who is currently batting .284 in 33 games, is in his first year with the IronBirds after spending 2009 with the Gulf Coast League Orioles, where he batted .271.
“Me playing every day, that’s exciting,” Anderson said. “Get in a big groove and we’ll see what happens.”
The 6-foot-6, 240-pound former Coastal Carolina player was signed into the Orioles organization as an undrafted free agent in 2009 after a very prolific college career. During his 2009 season at Coastal Carolina, Anderson batted .377 with 21 home runs and 82 RBIs. He led the Big South Conference in home runs, RBIs, slugging (.732), total bases (161), and walks (45). His average ranked seventh, his .482 on-base percentage ranked third, and his 83 hits were fifth.
“I went to a great college with a pretty good program, we were Top 25 every year so I learned a lot there,” Anderson said.
Anderson played 50 games in the Gulf Coast League last year batting .271 with four home runs and 35 RBIs. Anderson recorded an on-base percentage of .394 and a slugging percentage of .431 for a .825 OPS. He showed some patience at the plate, recording 36 walks against 32 strikeouts.
This year at Aberdeen, Anderson is either leading or ranked very high in important offensive categories. Out of IronBirds with more than 30 games played, Anderson is fourth with his .284 batting average. Anderson leads the entire team in home runs with six and second in RBIs with 20. Anderson leads the team with a .416 on-base percentage, a .520 slugging percentage, and a .936 OPS. In the New York-Penn League, Anderson’s on-base percentage ranks sixth, his slugging percentage ninth, and his OPS seventh.
Anderson brings a good eye to the plate, leading the IronBirds with 22 walks, a category he is tied for seventh in the league with.
So far in 2010, Anderson had split time with Flacco and Kolodny, alternating between designated hitter and first base. Anderson played 22 of his 33 games this year at first base.
“It builds confidence knowing that you’re going to be the everyday guy out there,” he said. “That helps out when you have confidence knowing that you’re going to be out there. Just got to produce and help the team win.”
Manager Gary Kendall feels that playing consistently will show more of Anderson than fans and the organization have already seen.
“I appreciate what David’s done here. I think there’s more to David than what we’re seeing,” Kendall said. “With adjustments, he could do a lot better in this league. There’s nothing wrong with the numbers, six home runs, 20 RBIs, but there’s some things in his swing that if he gets worked out that [he] could even exceed what he’s doing now. But he’s doing a good job.”
While Anderson does project to see the most action at first base, Kendall said that catcher Austin Rauch has been practicing at first and had played first base before in another minor league system.
Anderson does prefer to be in the field as opposed to at the DH.
“Of course I like being out in the field because I feel like I can make plays or something like that, help out a little bit more,” he said. “If it’s just DHing some nights, I like doing that too. I mean, that’s what I’m mostly here for to do is hit.”
Kendall sees playing every day as a new challenge for Anderson.
“David’s got to be up for the challenge for one,” Kendall said. “He’s going to be forced to go out there 90 percent of the days. I don’t think we should have any problem with it. I know we had a lot of depth at that position before, now there’s not that much there, but in a short season with a day off here, a day off there, he should be able to handle it, as far as going out there and doing a good job.”
One aspect of Anderson’s game that needs work is his strikeouts. Anderson currently leads the team, striking out 40 times this year. Kendall feels that this is a key aspect that is holding back development.
Kendall said, “If he continues to work on some of the things that he’s weak on offensively, cut his strikeouts down and put the ball in play, he’s one of those guys that if you take his strikeouts away and you look at what he hits when he doesn’t strikeout, the amount of walks that he gets, how much more beneficial he can be to a ballclub just by putting the ball in play more.”
Anderson himself said he’s working on “mostly cutting down on strikeouts” in regards to improving his game this season.
Since Flacco’s call-up on July 25, Anderson has hit .240 with two home runs and three RBIs along with four runs scored and four walks in seven games. However, Anderson was struck out 10 times.
However, Kendall appreciates the production he has gotten from Anderson thus far and is still looking for more from his first baseman.
“I really am thankful we have him because he’s done a pretty good job over there,” Kendall said. “With some work, he can be a lot better than he is. But he’s done a good job for us.”