Even when Drew Anderson doesn't have a good start, he's having fun on the mound. It's not there's been a lot of bad starts for Anderson this year, but should there be one, he'll still be having fun.
You'd have a tough time finding the 19-year-old Reno native walking on the baseball field without a smile. He's living the dream of playing professional baseball and enjoying every minute of it.
On top of that, the right-hander has become maybe the Williamsport Crosscutters' most consistent starting pitcher this year. He allowed just one run in five innings in his most recent outing Thursday in a win over Auburn.
Outings like that have become the norm for Anderson. He still has yet to allow more than three earned runs in a start this year. And through eight appearances, his ERA is nearly two runs lower than what it was in eight appearances in the Gulf Coast League last year.
"I'm feeling great," Anderson said Friday following batting practice at Bowman Field. "I'm just coming out and giving it my all to try and get better."
Anderson has been a pleasant addition to the Cutters' rotation. He's one of three Williamsport pitchers who have been in the starting rotation since opening day. But neither Shane Martin nor Mitch Gueller have been as consistent in their starts as Anderson, a 2012 21st-round draft pick.
His eight starts this year are tied for the New York-Penn League lead, and his 41 1/3 innings pitched are second in the league. His .237 batting average against is also the lowest for any Williamsport starting pitcher.
Anderson has been a staple of consistency. He's thrown at least five innings in seven of his eight starts, and went 4 1/3 innings in the only start he didn't, and that came in his first start of the season.
"My fastball, I've been throwing strikes with it. My curveball has been my out pitch," Anderson said. "Even my change-up has been pretty good. (Catcher Gabriel) Lino doesn't call it as much, but it's there if I need it."
Anderson is not an overpowering pitcher with a fastball which sits at 90 mph, but he's bought in to, and executed pitching coach Les Lancaster's philosophy of making sure he throws strike one. He's not afraid to pitch to contact, working consistently around the strike zone. He's walked one batter or fewer in five of his eight starts, and two or fewer in seven of his eight starts.
"It's all about the first-pitch strike. If you get that, you can go anywhere from there," Anderson said. "I feel like every time I put a guy on with a walk, he scores. It's nothing but a free base and you don't want guys getting free bases."
Anderson is tied for the team lead with three wins, along with Gueller. But he's vastly improved on his numbers from his time in the GCL a year ago.
He's lowered his hits per nine innings by nearly 2 to 7.8. His walks per nine has increased to just 2.6 per nine innings, and his 2.25/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio is up from last year's 1.60/1 ratio.
Anderson put together the best start of his professional career in just his second time out this year when he went six hitless innings and helped the Cutters' pitching staff come within an out of a no-hitter. But that start is so far behind Anderson that he doesn't think about it anymore.
"Every time I go out there I'm just trying to give it my all, and if it happens, it happens," Anderson said. "If not, it sucks, but I'll get back on it and go back at it again next time."
Either way, he'll have fun on the mound.