On Wednesday, the New York Yankees selected left-handed pitcher Ryan Anderson out of Nevada University with their 12th Round pick.
Shortly after he was selected, we at Pinstriped Prospects had the chance to talk to him about pitching in the Mountain West, his decision to stay home and pitch at Nevada, and much more.
Keeler: Where were you when you found out the Yankees were going to select you in the 12th Round and what was that feeling like?
Ryan: I was sitting at home with my parents and had talked to my agent earlier in the morning. He texted me earlier in the 12th Round and just said to be ready, so I wasn’t sure who was going to take me, but it ended up being the Yankees.
Keeler: Had you or your agent had any talk with the Yankees prior to the draft?
Ryan: My agent had and I met with the area scout a couple of times in the fall and I met with one of their mental guys in Reno.
Keeler: Were the Yankees your favorite team growing up in Reno?
Ryan: The Yankees have actually been my favorite team growing up, so it is kind of crazy.
Keeler: Have you ever been to Yankee Stadium?
Ryan: Never been to New York.
Keeler: Who are some of your favorite players to watch on the Yankees?
Ryan: I am a big fan of watching big lefties, so James Paxton and J.A. Happ. I am a big fan of Luke Voit because of power. Those are three of my favorites now, but I grew up watching Randy Johnson, Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Mike Mussina, so I have been watching them for a long time.
Keeler: You mentioned Paxton and Happ and it is kind of interesting those are two different styles of pitching. What do you take from those pitchers that you apply to your game and which pitchers do you enjoy watching?
Ryan: I would say my favorite to watch because we are really similar is Andrew Miller, especially when he was on the Yankees. We are both really long, slender lefties with a 3/4 arm slot, a little bit of sidewinder action. James Paxton is a big lefty. I would say those two. Chris Sale has a similar body style as mine, so when any of them are pitching, I will definitely tune in.
Keeler: How did you develop the 3/4 arm slot and how has worked for you over time in high school and at Nevada?
Ryan: It was kind of a natural arm slot for me. It wasn’t anything forced and it was always comfortable for me. It gets kind of long, so it is tough to try to keep it as smooth and clean on the back as I can. It’s my natural arm slot and I have been working with it ever since high school.
Keeler: For those who haven’t seen you pitch, how would you describe your pitch arsenal?
Ryan: I would say I am really deceptive, I have really long limbs, 6″6, 200 pounds, so I got a lot of arms and legs coming at you when I’m throwing. Three-pitch mix. Fastball, curveball, changeup. I like to compete and go out there and get hitters out.
Keeler: Out of those 3, which would you consider your go-to pitch?
Ryan: I am really fastball-heavy in college. You really work off the fastball. I like my changeup a lot and the breaking ball comes right after the changeup.
Keeler: How do you think playing in the Mountain West help prepare you for professional baseball with all of the different atmospheres that you played in?
Ryan: It has definitely made me a lot mentally stronger. I have given up a lot of hits and a few home runs that would not go out at a lot of different ballparks. It just makes you stronger mentally. I had a start at Air Force where the wind was blowing straight out to center at 50 miles-per-hour and you already at 6,000 feet elevation, so it feels like you are throwing anything up there and it will go out. The mental toughness that comes with pitching in the Mountain West, it is a hitter’s friendly conference, so it will get you prepared for anything.
Keeler: At Nevada, you were both a starter and reliever. This year, you made the full-time transition into being a starter. How did that go for you and if you had to choose, which role do you prefer?
Ryan: I would prefer starting. I did a little bit of both my first two years. I just like being on that scheduled time to throw each week. I like having that preparation for each start. I thought the transition was good. I started every year when I go to summer ball, so it wasn’t too different for me. There were a few kinks, maybe getting a little tired down the road. I hadn’t thrown that many innings in a long time. I had to get used to that and the monotonous routine every week during a long season. There were a few things I had to get through, but it was a pretty good jump back into the starting rotation.
Keeler: Did you take anything away from being in the bullpen that helped you going back to the rotation?
Ryan: If you are in the bullpen, you really have to come in and that first inning you have to throw strikes and show your stuff. If you are a ‘pen guy, you will probably be only in there for an inning or two, so you have to show your stuff and get outs quick. That is something you could take to the rotation because in that first inning you have to set the tone, pound the zone, and try to follow that the following innings.
Keeler: You had a start on February 22 against Long Beach when you threw seven no-hit innings and struck out 11 in your second start of the season. What was going through your mind in that game and how does it feel when everything is clicking against a really good program?
Ryan: That was a really special night. The warmup was like any other warmup. I felt pretty good. The bullpen, I was pretty hyped up, so I was throwing pretty hard and a little wild, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into that game. The first inning was really good, I had two punchouts and had some quick outs and kept it rolling. That’s a great ballpark to pitch in. I had really good stuff and command of all three pitches. It was a really good night for me.
Keeler: For those who haven’t been out to Peccole Park to watch a game, what is unique about playing home games at Nevada?
Ryan: I would say that Mountain West baseball is different. You put up 6-7 runs in a game and you might not win it or even be in the game. It is a crazy conference. We have some really good fans behind home plate. They make it a pretty cool experience. We have a really nice field, great facilities, and a great backdrop out there with Mount Rose behind the field that you can see. It is a great place to play and a lot different than New York, that’s for sure.
Keeler: You played your high school ball in Reno as well. How big of a factor was it to stay close to home to play your college ball?
Ryan: It was a pretty big decision. My dad played baseball at Nevada, my mom played volleyball at Nevada, my sister was a volleyball player. She was a senior when I was a freshman. It just made a lot of sense for me to stay close to home. I liked coach Bruce and when I looked at my other offers and visits, there weren’t a lot of schools that had what Nevada had. It was a pretty easy decision for me to stay home.
Keeler: When you are not playing baseball, what do you like to do?
Ryan: When I am not playing baseball, I for sure am playing golf. That’s my number one thing. I am always on the links if I have a spare day or a few hours or at least will go to the driving range. We also have a family cabin in a small town of Graeagle, California. It is woodsy and secluded so you get away from a lot of stuff, which is nice. Anything outdoors I would be doing.
Keeler: If you weren’t playing baseball, what would you be doing?
Ryan: I think I would be in a baseball front office. I am a huge baseball fan. I love numbers, analytics, trades, so I would be interning or something at this point. I would be doing something for a front office for a baseball team. That would be my ideal occupation.
Keeler: How did you get into baseball?
Ryan: I used to watch a lot of A’s games. My dad played, but he didn’t force anything on me. I grew a passion for the game, started playing Little League, and liked the thought of being a baseball player and what comes with that. The thought of being a baseball player for a living is a surreal thing for me. Having the opportunity to do that is crazy and I am going to try to make the most of it for sure.
Keeler: What is the biggest thing you are looking to improve on as you go to the professional level?
Ryan: One big thing I need to do is to improve my strength and conditioning, put on some weight, and keep it on. We have a good strength and conditioning program at Nevada, but it is hard with school and travel to get on that good program and maintain weight. We don’t have those kinds of resources at school. Getting with a big league program and being able to get around people who are specific with eating and strength, I think I can easily add 15-20 pounds and that would be really big for me.