Not so long ago Brian Anderson being dubbed as the Marlins’ hope for the future at third base.
That could still be the case.
But these days he’s giving the Marlins something to think about at the right field position.
Anderson moved there on April 27th following Martin Prado’s return from injury, and has impressed the Marlins with how quickly he has progressed playing a position he hadn’t played regularly since his college days at the University of Arkansas.
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“We expected him to be able to play it and keep his bat in the lineup, but he’s been a force out there with his throwing,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s got a cannon. He’s becoming a weapon out there in right field with his arm.”
Anderson has displayed great arm strength that’s allowed him to record a pair of outfield assists during his 18 games starting in right field.
Entering Saturday’s game, Anderson was one of only three major-league rookies with multiple outfield assists joining the Reds’ Jesse Winker (3) and the Orioles’ Anthony Santander (2).
Anderson’s second came Friday night to end the second inning that erased a chance for the Braves to possibly take an early lead. As Braves third baseman Johan Camargo tried to extend a single, Anderson fired on target to Miguel Rojas, who made a nice play keeping his glove on Camargo as he slid off the bag at second. Camargo was originally called safe, but it was overturned after the Marlins challenged.
His first came on May 12th when made a great throw from deep in right without hitting the ground to Prado at third to retire Freddie Freeman as he tried to advance from first to third.
Anderson, who has also made one error, said he’s still working hard with Marlins outfielders coach Fredi Gonzalez as he tries to master some of the fundamentals of playing the position.
“It’s just a process learning how to see the ball in different stadiums so every time I go to a new one it’s like learning all over again,” Anderson said. “It’s just repetition and the more plays I get and the more balls I can see in batting practice the better. On throws, I’m just trying to keep the ball as true as possible.”
Former Marlin Chris Coghlan, who played primarily at second and third base over three years in the minors, was moved to left field in 2009 after being called up. Coghlan went on to win National League Rookie of the Year honors that season, playing 122 games at the position.
Coghlan, who remained primarily an outfielder through his final season with the Marlins in 2013, had solid speed and ability to track balls in the outfield, but didn’t have a powerful arm and recorded only three outfield assists that year.
Anderson, who is the only rookie in the majors to play in all of his team’s games this season, has the potential to be better in that category while giving the Marlins a chance to develop his hitting by staying in their lineup.
“He’s still learning some stuff that you need to just experience,” said Gonzalez, who managed the Marlins in 2009. “If you didn’t know any better, you would never know he’s only played [18 games]. You’d think he was playing infield all of his life. I don’t even worry about him in the outfield.”
Gonzalez said that while opponents will likely continue to challenge Anderson on the base paths, they may come to respect his powerful arm once he gets more experience.
Gonzalez said Anderson has embraced the opportunity to play right field and has shown an eagerness to get better at the position.
“There are going to be little things over the course of the game such as where to throw the ball so runners don’t take an extra base on him,” Gonzalez said. “You can prepare him for some situations, but when the game gets going and the adrenaline is flowing that’s where the experience comes in.”
Sunday: Miami Marlins LHP Wei-Yin Chen (1-2, 7.56 ERA) vs. Atlanta Braves RHP Julio Teheran (4-1, 3.49), 1:35 p.m., SunTrust Park.
Monday: Marlins RHP Elieser Hernandez (0-0, 2.25) vs. New York Mets LHP Jason Vargas (0-3, 13.86), 7:10 p.m., Citi Field.