Lars Anderson Needs a New Team: Red Sox Prospect Slowly Turning into a Suspect

Friday July 6th, 2012

Sam Evans:  Red Sox prospect Lars Anderson went from being an 18th round draft pick, to being in-line for a starting spot on one of the most storied teams in baseball. However, after the Red Sox signed Adrian Gonzalez, Anderson no longer was part of the Red Sox future. Now, in Triple-A, Anderson needs a new team that believes in him. After all, he’s only twenty-four years old and just a step away from the majors.

Lars Anderson was drafted in the 18th round of the 2006 MLB Amateur, draft mainly because teams thought he wouldn’t sway from a commitment to the University of California-Berkley. However, the Red Sox went way over slot to sign Anderson handing him a $825,000 signing bonus. $825,000 was a lot for a second-round draft pick, let alone an eighteenth rounder. Pretty soon, Red Sox nation got excited about this young first baseman/outfielder and his seemingly bright future.

In Anderson’s first full season in 2007, he hit .288 with a 125 wRC+ in 14 games at Greenville in the Sally league. It was a surprisingly intriguing debut, which was made more impressive by the fact that Anderson was one of the youngest players in the league. In 2008, Anderson split time between High-A and Double-A, and appeared unstoppable. In a combined 118 games, Anderson hit .317 with eighteen home runs. Not very many players drafted that late out of high school only need a year and a half to reach Double-A.

In 2009, Anderson took a colossal step back at Double-A. In 119 games, Anderson hit .233 with a 90 wRC+. Even though Anderson started to draw more walks, he stopped hitting for average and power. The Red Sox had to be confused with what was going on with this prospect that had no problems facing Double-A pitching just one year ago. In 2010, at Triple-A, Anderson was only slightly better posting a 106 wRC+. The reports on this one-time outstanding hitter for average were not promising.

The 2011 season was big for Lars Anderson. He finally started to hit more at Triple-A. In 136 games he hit .265/.369/.422 with fourteen homers. At the trade deadline, he almost got traded to Oakland, but injury concerns about Rich Harden prevented the trade from happening. At the last second Boston got cold feet and Lars Anderson stayed with the Red Sox. Since then, his prospect stock has continued to fall. So far in 2012, Anderson is hitting .262 with a 129 wRC+ in seventy-two games. He’s basically having the same season he had last year.

The biggest concern most teams have about Anderson is that he has yet to tap into his plus raw power, and first basemen need to hit for power to stay at the position. However, in recent years, Anderson hasn’t even hit for average. A lot of this is due to his inability to hit good breaking balls, which has really held him back. He has a very long swing, similar to most power hitters, which means more strikeouts.

Lars Anderson started to try playing left field this spring, but most teams still see him as a first baseman (call it Yonder Alonso syndrome). He has the athleticism to play in the corner outfield, but everything else isn’t there mainly just due to his inexperience at the position. However, if he proves he can hit at an advanced level, most teams will be able to find room for him regardless of what position he plays.

Living up to expectations as a Red Sox prospect sounds like one of the hardest things to do in the sporting world. Not only does the organization have high expectations for your performance, but the fans take it out of control. The Red Sox get more press coverage than almost any team in baseball. Red Sox fans are insane, and once they hear about a young player like Anderson, some of them set unrealistic expectations.

It’s impossible to foresee which team might want Lars Anderson. Predicting trades is never a good idea, especially when it comes to players in the minor leagues. Anderson doesn’t need to play in the majors right away, but even a new Triple-A club might get him back to where he was a few years ago. Anderson may never become an All-Star, or even an above-average first baseman, but he could be a useful tool off the bench as a left-handed bat. Lars Anderson still has some potential and a rebuilding team should try to pry him from Red Sox nation. If the price becomes right, a smart team could get a player at a young enough age to blossom. Wait too long…and you could have another Ryan Shealy or Kila Ka’aihue on your hands. Prospects have a way of turning into suspects almost overnight in the world of Major League Baseball. Thankfully there is still time for Lars Anderson to fulfill his promise.

***Today’s feature was prepared by Sam Evans, Baseball Writer.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter. (@RJA206)***



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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on July 6, 2012, in On the Verge: MLB Prospects and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. He just needs a change of scenery. Not an Northeast kind of guy.

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