In his MLB debut, 22-year-old Ian Anderson showed he belonged.
The 6-foot 3-inch right-handed pitcher, Shenendehowa grad and No. 3 selection by the Atlanta Braves in the 2016 MLB draft threw five innings of no-hit baseball against the New York Yankees Wednesday before giving up a solo home run to Luke Voit in the top of the sixth inning.
Anderson (1-0) earned his first major league win, going six innings, allowing one earned run, striking out six batters and issuing two walks in the 5-1 win at Truist Park in Atlanta.
All in a day’s work.
“Definitely there were some nerves going, but I think it was a good nervousness and excitement to get out there and prove myself a little bit,” Anderson said. “As the game went on, they settled down a little bit and I was able to get into a bit of a groove.”
That groove included his ability to attack the strike zone, something he talked about with his father, former Schalmont head coach Bob Anderson, before his MLB debut.
“That’s the something that I’ve been working on quite a bit, filling up the strike zone, making hitters, make that bad judgment call last second what pitch it is and then try to hit it,” Ian Anderson said. “My last couple outings down in Gwinnett at the alternate site, similar to this, I was on the attack and I saw the results.”
His efforts did not go unnoticed by the opposition during the YES Network broadcast.
“His three-pitch mix, his change-up came in as being billed as really, extremely improved and that he has shown a lot of confidence with it,” YES Network analyst and Cy Young Award winner David Cone said during the broadcast. “It has shown up today. That’s been the one secondary pitch I think that has caught the Yankees off-guard.
“He had a really good curveball to go with it. But today, as you see that pitch count by the inning, it’s been the change-up. I think has been his best pitch. He’s thrown it to both lefties and right-handed batters, pretty impressive for a rookie in his major league debut, to be this under control.”
Anderson was originally slated to make his debut Tuesday, but that’s night’s game was rained out.
Anderson was given a lift by the Braves’ offense, hitting three home runs, including a 473-foot blast by Ronald Acuna Jr., the second-longest in MLB this season, leading off the bottom of the first inning.
Dansby Swanson and Marcell Ozuna also homered off Cole, who had not lost since May 22, 2019, with the Houston Astros.
“That’s just fun to watch man, I couldn’t believe it,” Anderson said about Acuna Jr.’s shot. “I mean, not that I wasn’t expecting it, seeing what he’s able to do, but even still now I’m kind of in disbelief just how far he hit that. In a big spot like that against Cole, you know he’s a special player.”
Anderson was also confident in his receiver, veteran catcher, Tyler Flowers.
“We had a great relationship back there, and Flowers did a tremendous job keeping me calm and keeping me in a rhythm,” Anderson said. “We were on the same page for the whole game. It’s nice to have a veteran guy back there like that, that can do that for you.”
Making his debut in front of a set of cardboard fans in the seats behind home plate due to COVID-19, his family was unable to make the trip, but they were his first text when the game was over.
“I know my parents and brothers would have loved to be here, and that was a little bittersweet in that aspect,” Anderson said. “I know that they were rooting me on, and as much as I wish they could have been here, it was still more than I could have asked for.
“I just shot my parents a text thanking them for everything, make sure they know I love them and know that they’re a huge part of this as well. My whole family and everyone that’s supported me along the way.”
Even with an impressive outing, Anderson is still a rookie and he said he has work to continue to do.
“My goal is to be here and stay here, and I think today, I was able to kind of show that a little bit,” he said. “I definitely looking forward to, hopefully, get another shot at it and see what we can do from there.”
While the future is not guaranteed, his MLB stat line will include a near no-hit bid against the New York Yankees in his major league debut at 22-years-old.
He also survived his first Zoom postgame press conference and had plans to return a slew of calls and texts later Wednesday night.
“I probably won’t take the smile off my face for a long time afterwards,” Anderson said. “It was a lot [of messages], it was a lot to sort through, so I’m excited to take that on later.”