Dodgers first round pick Chris Anderson sounds like a man who just wants to pitch. The 20-year-old junior from Jacksonville University, picked No. 18 overall by the Dodgers on Thursday, said he looked up to Nolan Ryan, who pitched a whopping 27 years in major league baseball.
"I've always watched him. I loved his demeanor on the mound, just a fierce competitor," Anderson said on Friday. "That's what I pride myself on being."
Dodgers vice president of scouting Logan White said Anderson has "a bulldog-competitive makeup," and it showed at Jacksonville. The team was just 17-38 in 2013 with a 5.50 team ERA, but Anderson was 7-5 with a 2.49 ERA with nearly a strikeout per inning in his team-leading 104⅔ innings. The next best ERA on the team was 4.50. Which is why Anderson was drafted the highest of any baseball player in school history.
"Words can't really describe how I felt. It's been a long time coming and I've worked hard. I was extremely excited," Anderson said. "To see my family and close friends go crazy when I got called was pretty cool."
Anderson called Yasiel Puig a great player with "all the tools," but also was confident in his own abilities should he have to face the Cuban sensation.
"I'd attack him, just like I pitch. That's what I do," Anderson said. "Not to say he wouldn't get the best of me some times, but I'd like to think I get him.
The slot value for the No. 18 spot, per Baseball America, is $2,109,900. Anderson has leverage in that he can return to school for his senior season, but on Friday he said that wasn't in his plans.
"I'm pretty set on turning pro," he said.
White mentioned capping Anderson's innings at 50 after he signs this year. But the right-hander sounded like someone who wanted to get out on the mound as soon as possible.
"I've been telling everybody I feel great right now. I feel 100%. Whatever they have planned for me, I'm going to follow what they have," Anderson said. "I'm ready to go. I'm ready to get in there and compete, and do what I love to do, and pitch."
Anderson, like the Dodgers' second round pick Tom Windle, grew up in Minnesota. Anderson looked up to his uncle Chris Simdorn, a quarterback at North Dakota State who won the Harlon Hill Trophy, the Division II equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, in 1990. Anderson nearly followed in Simdorn's footsteps.
"When I was younger, a freshman and sophomore in high school, that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to follow my uncle's footsteps and playing college football, and hopefully get to the NFL," Anderson said. "But as soon as my junior year hit, I started to get a lot more attention on the baseball end. Just talking to my family I had to dig deep and find out what was best for me. Obviously the baseball route was best and I'm glad I made that decision."
Anderson will likely have around two million reasons to be glad he made that decision.