Brian Anderson has hit 52 home runs in the minors in the four years since the Marlins drafted him.
But he has yet to feel what it’s like to send a ball soaring over the fence at Marlins Park or any other in the majors.
That could change this season.
But even if does, hitting tape-measure shots like the 430-footer Anderson hit Friday afternoon during the Marlins’ exhibition game in Lakeland isn’t the primary focus for the 24-year old rookie with a chance to be Miami’s future third baseman.
"As I’m getting older, I feel like I’m definitely getting stronger and the ball is starting to carry further," Anderson said. "I’m definitely trying to drive the ball further whenever I’m up there and not just trying to punch singles. I’m trying to drive the ball into the gaps and it’s great to start seeing the ball go over the fence, but it’s not what I focus my game on. I’m more worried about getting my pitch and putting a good swing on it."
The Marlins lost plenty of power from its lineup after trading away Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich.
But while he has shown the potential to bring some power to the lineup eventually, developing into a consistent, run-producer is what the Marlins are hoping to see from Anderson, their No. 9 overall prospect according to MLBPipeline.com.
Anderson got his first taste of the majors last year in September, playing in 25 games once veteran third baseman Martin Prado underwent knee surgery. Anderson hit .262 with 22 hits in 84 at-bats (.262), seven doubles, a triple and eight RBI.
The Marlins are hoping Prado, 34, can play in some games by mid-March, but it’s not certain whether he’ll be ready for Opening Day. Prado played only 37 games last season while being hampered by hamstring and later knee issues.
If Prado isn’t ready, it could open the door for Anderson to start the season at third, but as with most of their young prospects, the Marlins don’t plan to rush his development.
Anderson, who went 2 for 4 with a double in the MLB Futures Game last year, has shown power potential with 22 home runs in the minors last season combined at Triple-A and Double-A.
"He’s looked good with what he’s done at third base," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "To me, just let him play out, see how it goes. I do have high hopes for him because I think his swing is good. He’s a kid that works extremely hard. He can be hard on himself to a point. I don’t want that to become detrimental. He expects a lot out of himself, but sometimes guys put too much pressure on themselves to a point where then it gets in the way.
"I love his progression where he’s at and I think he’s going to be very good."
Anderson, the Marlins’ third-round pick in 2014 out of University of Arkansas, said an area he needs to improve is his throws on defense.
Anderson made three throwing errors in 54 chances during his month-long stint with the Marlins last year.
"It’s something Bone [first base and infielders coach Perry Hill] and I are working on every day," Anderson said. "It’s something I need to be good at consistently in order to stay up in the big leagues."
THIS AND THAT
▪ Outfielder Cameron Maybin was held out of the lineup on Saturday due to some tightness in his left Achilles. Mattingly said Maybin would not make the trip to Orlando for the Marlins’ game Sunday against the Braves as originally planned, but expects him to return Monday.
Maybin participated in outfield drills during the team’s pregame workouts on Saturday morning.
"I just feel like I’d rather give him a couple of days and then come back and get him regular at-bats," Mattingly said. "We don’t want to let this thing turn into something where he misses a week and then we have to rush to get him ready for the season."
▪ The Marlins reassigned right-handed pitcher Jordan Yamamoto to minor league camp. The Marlins have 67 players in camp.
Sunday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily vs. Atlanta Braves RHP Mike Foltynewicz, 1:05 p.m., Lake Buena Vista.
Monday: Marlins RHP Elieser Hernandez vs. Houston Astros LHP Dallas Keuchel, 1:05 p.m., West Palm Beach.