The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Player Profile
(including links to full 2011 and career stats)
School: Simi Valley High School, California
Selected 2011 stats
CariocaCardinal (27): Bryan Anderson's presence on TheCardinalNation.com top 40 list carries special significance as he is the only player to be on the list in each of its seven years of existence. (Others still in the Cardinals organization that were on the original list include Tyler Greene, Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, and Mitchell Boggs). The negative aspect of that distinction is that his 2012 ranking is by far his lowest ever (he has never been previously lower than 13th).
With the exception of a drop in power to his pre-2009 levels, Anderson's season was not terribly out of line with previous years when he was ranked much higher. However, Anderson is no spring chicken anymore (in baseball terms), so his advancing age and lack of progress (2011 was his fourth at Triple-A) without noticeable offensive improvement is obviously being held against him.
If it wasn't for the fact that Anderson is a rare left-handed hitting catcher, he most likely wouldn't even be ranked as high as he is. The one thing that kept him up in my personal ranking was him upping his game in the second half by posting an .820 OPS and improving in average, on-base and slugging. (It was tempered though by an abnormally high BABIP near .400.)
Anderson will come to spring training expecting to compete for a backup catching job on the major league team (pending a further signing or trade). New manager Mike Matheny is said to be higher on Anderson's defensive potential than most so there is some positive expectation even though he was not called up to the Cardinals in September. Anderson has no options after 2012 so this is truly a do or die year for Anderson and the Cardinals.
Message board community (26): Anderson was the community's 26th prospect, very close to the overall 25th, but a far cry from last year's 12th. He fell despite posting similar offensive numbers at Memphis in 2010 (OPS of .789) and 2011 (.766).
We first started talking about Anderson more than two Cards' World Series wins ago - back in 2005. He's been in Memphis parts of each of the last four seasons. The drop in ranking seems mostly a realization that the Cards didn't use him as backup last season either out of spring or when Gerald Laird was hurt, giving the job to Tony Cruz. If they didn't bring him in after four seasons, when will they?
Anderson has posted a very solid .345 OBP, .411 SLG in his 1129 AAA plate appearances. A lefty catcher that can get on base pretty well? Who managed .374 OBP, .437 SLG vs. righties last year? Who turned 25 just last week?
My sense is that catchers sometimes take longer to learn their craft, though I have no stats to back that up and saw none in our community discussion. I've said this for several years, but I have to think that Mr. Anderson would be an attractive platoon catcher somewhere. Soon. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (24): All three of our numeric rankings are bunched very tightly, so it is not surprising our comments are also relatively consistent. Though I actually ranked Anderson the most aggressively of the group, I may be least optimistic.
Perhaps it is fitting that Anderson's frequent battery-mate over the last three years with Memphis has been Adam Ottavino. I could pretty much just copy what I said about the pitcher here. The net is that while there has been no real backslide in performance, there has been no breakthrough, either. In other words, a career plateau looks to have been reached.
For years we could make the excuse that Anderson had been a high schooler, pushed ahead and young for his level. That is no longer the case. I don't see the indicators to forecast a change in trajectory. At this point, Anderson looks to be an above average-hitting Triple-A catcher. It is a valuable role, just not necessarily worthy of top prospect consideration.
This is an old scenario, but I still wonder if the Cardinals (and perhaps Anderson as well) would have benefited most had he been traded to another organization at the peak of his national prospect excitement. Those days are long gone.
Still, all is not lost. The one variable that kept Anderson in my top 25 is the former catcher who is now the manager in St. Louis. There is a possibility that Matheny may see more in Anderson than he does in Cruz. I still wonder if either is strong enough in all aspects of catching (especially game management) to stick long-term, but there seems no one more qualified than Matheny to answer that.
Our 2012 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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