Before Joel Zumaya and before Kyle Farnsworth, there was former number one pick Matt Anderson. With his tall, lean frame, Anderson threw gas unlike many Tigers before him. He was supposed to be the team’s future, and when the team moved into Comerica Park in 2000, there was Anderson (along with Jeff Weaver and Francisco Cordero) placing Tiger Stadium’s home plate into its new home. Now, with years of surgery and family struggles behind him, Anderson is looking to make a comeback with the Philadelphia Phillies.
He made the squad very shortly after being picked out of Rice. With a $2.5 million signing bonus in hand, Anderson was one of the many reasons why Tigers fans thought a turnaround was on the horizon. Naturally his youth, mixed with mechanics and an all-out mentality led to injuries and a loss of heat on the fastball. What was once 100 mph became 90 mph – confidence turning into fear every time he took the mound.
It has been six years since those last major league pitches in a Colorado Rockies uniform. With some minor league struggles and children in the years since, it looks like Anderson may have received one final shot at making it to the big leagues. He’s increased his speed up into the mid-90’s and fear is no longer a word in his vocabulary. With all of the high hopes for the Phillies in 2011 with their pitching rotation, it looks like the biggest story could come from the most unlikely place.