Anything is possible for talented Indians righty Cody Anderson
There have been few bright spots in an otherwise bleak season for the Carolina Mudcats, but one of the brightest spots has been the maturation of right handed starting pitcher Cody Anderson.
The Quincy, California native, the owner of a Carolina League-leading five wins and the league’s fourth best ERA at 2.47 has been the ace of the Carolina staff thus far in his ten starts this season.
On May 20, Anderson was named the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week as well as the Cleveland Indians minor league Player of the Week for his two starts against Salem and Lynchburg, where he went 1-1 with a 0.73 ERA for the week. Anderson allowed only one run in 12.1 innings of work over the course of the week.
With the success he has had so far this season, Anderson says he’s just sticking to what he’s done since he started playing professional baseball.
“I’m trying to fine tune all of my pitches," Anderson said. "Trying to locate the fastball a little better, locate the curveball or changeup a little better. I’m just trying to do all the little things to get more strikeouts and more ground balls. Things like that.”
While all of the individual honors are not what professional athletes work for, the thought of them stay in the back of their minds. Anderson said that while the honors are nice, they are not what he works for and he pitches to give his team a chance to win.
“I actually found out from my mom that I got those awards” Anderson said. “She called me up and said ‘you’re the Pitcher of the Week’ and I didn’t know what that was. I try not to look at too much stuff like that or stats or anything. I just try to work hard to give my team the best chance to win and everything else will work out for itself.”
While Anderson is not necessarily working on the development of any new pitches at the moment, he is putting more work into the refinement of his secondary pitches, namely his curveball and changeup.
“They’ve really put an emphasis on my curveball and changeup and I’ve been able to have a little bit of success with those pitches by mixing them in to get some more off-speed looks and get them off my fastball," Anderson said.”
The refinement of these pitches has worked well so far as Anderson leads the Mudcats with 52 strikeouts on the season and in WHIP at 1.10.
During the 2012 season, Anderson pitched for Lake County, the single-A affiliate for the Cleveland Indians, where he compiled a 4-7 record with a 3.20 ERA in 24 appearances (23 starts). Even with the advancement he has seen his ERA lowered by almost a full run since last season. He has also already topped the number of wins he compiled all of last season.
Anderson is happy with his success, but realizes it might not last.
“[The lower ERA] gives you confidence, but at the same time it could go up by a run in a week so I just keep working hard and try to stay right where I’m at and refine all the tools that I can have,” Anderson said.
The weather in Zebulon and central North Carolina has been very windy this season, more so than normal. Anderson said that while to many people it might not seem like that much of a factor, it has helped him this season.
“When you go out there and see the flagpoles whipping a little bit, it puts in the back of your head you’ve got to put the ball down and keep it there because you don’t want them hitting pop flies that maybe get caught in the air and the wind just takes it out," Anderson said. "When you keep the ball down as a pitcher, that’s where you have the most success, which is something I’ve been working on anyways. The wind has been a factor though.
Baseball was not always Anderson’s first choice for a career path. A three-sport star in high school, his original dream was to play professional football, but concussions derailed that dream.
“We were on the way to the last road trip in baseball my senior year and I was still debating on what I was going to do," Anderson recalled. "I was just going to junior college because I hadn’t been recruited anywhere. But we stopped at a sporting goods store and my mom told me she’d buy me a glove if I played baseball in college, so that kind of made my decision for me."
It quickly became apparent that baseball was the correct decision for Anderson. The 2010 MLB Draft rolled around, and despite only pitching about 14 innings his first year in college, Anderson was selected in the 17th round by the Tampa Bay Rays.
“When I got drafted that first time, I was kind of blindsided," Anderson said. "It showed me I could actually do this. My parents and I made the decision for me to stay in college and get more experience under my belt.
The next year, the Cleveland Indians came calling in the 14th round and Anderson signed to begin his professional baseball career. He has since impressed since the day he stepped on a mound as a professional, and has a very positive outlook for the rest of the season and his career.
“Anything is possible," he said. "If you keep your head in it and you have enough motivation anything is possible."
Zachary is a senior at NC State where he is majoring in communication-media, with minors in journalism and theatre. You can follow him on Twitter @RealZachFrancis.