The big day had to wait a day.
Ian Anderson, the former Shenendehowa High School pitcher and No. 3 MLB overall pick in the 2016 draft of the Atlanta Braves, was scheduled to face the New York Yankees Tuesday night in Atlanta after getting called up earlier in the day, but the game was postponed due to rain. Instead, Anderson will take the mound at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday in his major league debut..
“He was the best pitching prospect the Braves have right now. In the MLB Top 100, he was listed at 42,” YES Network analyst John Flaherty said during the Yankees pregame show Tuesday night. “Tall and thin with a fastball that will be about mid-90s, throws a big curveball and a change-up.
“I don’t care if there is no one in the stands, he’s going to be very nervous.”
With fans across the south and Capital Region waiting for the much-anticipated start, Anderson had support from another Clifton Park legend and current professional athlete, Kevin Huerter.
Huerter plays for the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, and the two former Plainsmen grew up playing baseball together.
“I remember my first preseason NBA game, I was so nervous. But at the same time, you never have to forget and you always have to remember that you deserve to be there,” Huerter said on a video call with @FoxSportsBraves on Twitter. “If you’re at the point where you are starting in the MLB for a major league team, you deserve every right to be on that field pitching.”
Anderson was expected to enter the major leagues this season, but the COVID-19 pandemic threw all sports and careers a curveball. He was again invited to the later spring training and then placed with the Braves’ minor league squad at the team’s alternate training site at Coolray Field in Gwinnett, Ga.
“He threw another scrimmage [last] Thursday. Threw seven shutout [innings], three hits, one walk, 12 [strikeouts] and shortly after that one, they said to him most likely you are going to be pitching in five days for us against the Yankees,” Bob Anderson, Ian Anderson’s father, said in a phone interview Tuesday. “They finally reached out to him that night and said we’re bringing you up for Tuesday’s game.”
The anticipated move surged through social media Monday without confirmation from the Braves organization or MLB.
“He couldn’t say anything to us until [Monday] mid-morning, he reached out to us,” Bob Anderson said. “He said he could tell the family, but you guys have to keep it quiet because they had roster moves to make and didn’t want guys finding out on social media.”
Bob Anderson knew his son was ready for Tuesday’s scheduled opportunity.
“He said I’m just attacking the hitters,” Bob Anderson said. “I just sent him a message, and said you have to keep attacking. I don’t care what level you are pitching at, just go right after them, one pitch at a time, one batter at a time.”
Then he gave him a message that he has shared throughout his youth, prep, and pro careers — control.
“If things start to speed up, you have to slow things down,” Bob Anderson said. “You’re the guy with the ball. The inning doesn’t start, the batter doesn’t start until you throw the pitch.”
With that last bit of pitching coach advice, the ball, for a time Tuesday was in his son’s hands.
Now both must wait.
Ian Anderson will face Gerrit Cole. While Anderson will be looking for his first career victory, Cole is on a 20-game winning streak dating back to last season with the Houston Astros.
The game will be televised by YES Network.