Scouting Yankees Prospect #46: Kyle Anson

Kyle Anson continues to make strides defensively

The Yankees drafted Kyle Anson out of Texas State University in the 10th round of the 2005 MLB Draft as a third baseman. Blessed with one of the best infield arms in the farm system the Yankees moved him to catcher in 2006 and, despite another injury-shortened season this year, he continues to make impressive progress behind the plate.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Kyle Anson
Position: Catcher
DOB: April 21, 1983
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 200
Bats: Both
Throws: Right

"The first half went great and then I got the injury, but I've learned something about myself – I played through pain and I learned when not to play through pain," Anson said of his 2008 season. "That helps me in the future."

"That helps my career out and it gets me going. It's a learning process going through the minor leagues, the ups and downs of it."

No stranger to injuries, one who missed a significant portion of his debut season in 2005 and then all of 2006 with two knee injuries, Anson was involved in a collision at home plate against the Clearwater Phillies on June 2nd where he strained all the ligaments in his right foot and also turned his ankle in what many described as a dirty play by the opposition.

Hitting .250 with three home runs and more walks than strikeouts in the first half, he earned a Florida State League All Star selection before missing the ensuing six weeks with the injury and he found it extremely tough the rest of the way, hitting just .225 after the break.

"It was definitely because of the injury," Anson said of his second half struggles. "Baseball is a game of confidence and when it's one of your wheels [foot] there, and your base for catching and hitting – I don't want to make excuses and I did go out there and tried my hardest – but I didn't play to my potential and there were a couple of games there where I was embarrassed with my play.

"That could have happened if I was healthy too. It is what it is and everybody plays through pain and everybody plays through injuries."

While his offensive output wasn't what he and the Yankees had hoped for, both parties were very pleased with his continued defensive progress behind the plate.

"Defensively, I took a lot from what I learned my first couple of years and then in Spring Training I learned a lot from those guys," he said. "You learn how to apply them and diagnose if I do something wrong.

"I can diagnose it myself and not need to have somebody go over video with me or explain it to me. I can diagnose it quicker, that way it doesn't happen a second time."

Obviously more self aware of his strengths and weaknesses, and where to make the necessary changes to his game, Anson, who has been quite a natural at blocking balls and throwing out runners, believes his game-calling abilities took a major leap forward in 2008.

"I definitely got a better rapport with pitchers and learn how to call each guy's different game, stick to their strengths, and go out there and talk to them if we disagree on a couple of calls," he said of what facet improved the most.

"I'll go out there and talk about what we're going to throw the next guy or just in the dugout we'll talk about things, and prepare before the game with each pitcher. I didn't do that as much as I should have the year before so I learned how to do that this year and just have a better game plan."

As pleased as he was with that aspect of his game, however, Anson believes that is still the area of his game that could use more improvement. And despite another injury-shortened season, he can feel the momentum of his game coming together at the catcher's position.

"I'm very confident, honestly," he admitted. "I've always felt it was my natural position and I'm starting to get more of a feel for it, the natural movement to block a ball or throw a guy out, call this pitch or see something. It's not where I have to think about it so hard [anymore].

"I remember when I started [catching] I'd wear myself out quickly mentally. I'm definitely more confident. I understand my abilities more with what I'm good at and where I need work. I can take that into each game."

Essentially with just two and a half seasons at the catcher's position under his belt, which isn't all that much in the grand scheme of things, Anson finds himself Rule 5 Draft eligible this offseason after the Yankees didn't protect him on the 40-man roster and there exists the possibility some team might believe he is big league ready enough to warrant a selection.

"It's kind of one of those things where you don't know if you're ready until you try it," he said if he's big league ready or not. "I'm definitely excited about getting my chance in the big leagues for sure and that's a big deal.

"Who knows if you're ready for it until you go out there and get the experience of it all. It's a different elevated game. I got a taste of it in Spring Training. It's definitely cool and I definitely want to try it. It's a big deal for me."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2008 Tampa .241 224 11 4 25 27 1 44 35 .367 .353
2007 Charleston .272 334 17 4 44 40 5 49 48 .365 .359
2005 Staten Island .252 131 7 0 10 24 7 27 26 .389 .305


Batting and Power. Kyle Anson has plus big league plate discipline already - period! He has walked more than he has struck out in each of his first three professional seasons after doing it every year in college as well. Possessing an excellent trio of big league plate discipline, patience, and pitch recognition, despite his career .255 average thus far, Anson projects to be a .300 hitter eventually, one with an above average on-base percentage. He is not a home run hitter, but he does have excellent gap power and most scouts believe he could approach double-digits in home runs at some point once he remains healthy and gets more comfortable defensively. A switch-hitter, he is a good hitter from the right side but he's even better from the left side.

Base Running and Speed. Anson is one of the fiercest competitors around and he hustles on every play. While he might not have the plus speed to be a major factor stealing bases, he does have enough natural agility and innate baseball knowledge to be an asset taking extra bases and swiping the occasional bag. He has the potential to have a Brad Ausmus-like impact on the bases at the catcher's position, possibly even approaching double-digit in stolen bases someday.

Defense. Anson has developed from a beginning catcher with raw plus abilities - including his quick release, plus arm strength, and plus accuracy with his throws - to a more polished defensive catcher in a short amount of time. His quick feet and agility were already in place to be adept at blocking balls in the dirt, but he has learned how to properly place his glove to become even better. Anson has also become a better receiver behind the plate, learning how to frame pitches better. He has also learned the nuances of calling games better, but while his rapport with pitchers has gotten better, he can still be a bit stubborn with his pitchers when insisting on certain pitches being thrown.

Projection. Anson's plus big league plate discipline, switch-hitting abilities, and natural catch-and-throw skills are more than enough to project him safely as a major league backup catcher someday. If he could finally avoid the injury bug long enough to continue developing and add some more strength, Anson could project to become a Bill Mueller type offensively as a switch-hitter with excellent plate discipline - a .300 hitter with good gap power. He still has room for improvement defensively, however, so if he could continue making progress framing pitches and working with pitchers better, he has the potential to be a very good starting catcher in the big leagues. He projects as a major league backup for now but there is a strong possibility he could be more.

ETA. 2010. With three really good catchers on their 40-man roster already, Anson has become a luxury of sorts for the Yankees and he'll now be Rule 5 Draft eligible this offseason. The foundation of his game is already there for a team to stash him on a roster as a backup catcher, but should he not be selected he will most likely open up as Trenton's starting catcher in 2009 and from there it should only be one more year before he gets his big league chance.

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