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Friday, June 10, 2016: Braves take Shenendehowa's Anderson with No. 3 pick

   Leading off today: It will make for fascinating reading some day when the full story of Ian Anderson's past 72 hours gets written. For now, though, there's only one story that matters:

   The 6-foot-3 right-hander became the surprise of the Major League Baseball draft on Thursday in Secaucus, N.J., when the Atlanta Braves selected the Shenendehowa pitcher with the No. 3 overall pick.

   The only two New York high school players to have gone earlier since the draft was instituted in 1965 were Shawon Dunston (No. 1 in 1982) and Rick Manning (No. 2 in 1972).

   The Braves started scrutinizing Anderson again when he fanned 16 Cicero-North Syracuse batters in the NYSPHSAA quarterfinals. Their interest reportedly had waned somewhat in April as Anderson struggled though a brief illness and minor injury before getting back in rhythm.

   Multiple teams started tracking him closely once again last month, and it became a given that Anderson, 18, would be selected fairly early. The remaining question was just how high he might go, with multiple mock drafts placing him in the middle of the first round with the expectation that he would sign rather than head off to Vanderbilt University in the fall.

   That's where the intrigue started to kick in -- more on that below -- until the team and Anderson's family struck a deal shortly before the draft began.

   At 7:24 p.m., MLB commissioner Rob Manfred called Anderson's name.

   "It was better than expected," Anderson told The Times Union. "I was nervous going up there, shaking I was so excited. It was great."

   The Braves have been stocking up on pitching. They selected pitchers Kolby Allard and Michael Soroka in the first round of last year's draft.

   "Ian's command of his pitches, especially his fastball, is really impressive for such a young pitcher," Brian Bridges, the Braves' director of scouting, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "He is one of the youngest players in this draft class, and he possesses a 'plus' fastball, curveball and changeup."

   Anderson was the first pitcher taken Thursday and the highest New York scholastic selection since Dunston in 1982. Jon Rathbun at the Times Telegram points out that B.J. Surhoff (North Carolina by way of Rye) went No. 1 in 1985 and Pedro Alvarez (Vanderbilt by way of Horace Mann) was a No. 2 pick in 2008 after going the collegiate route.

   "I knew going into tonight, probably 25 minutes before, that it was going to happen," he told The Record.

  

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  •    Anderson is the second Section 2 star in as many years to be selected in the first round. In 2015, the Tampa Bay Rays took Niskayuna's Garrett Whitley with the No. 13 pick.

       "It's awesome. Just awesome," Shenendehowa coach Greg Christodulu told The Gazette. "This is unbelievable."

       What's it worth? Under the MLB draft structure, the No. 3 pick was projected to be worth approximately a $6.5 million signing bonus. But the consensus is that Anderson will end up signing for less, which is part of the intrigue alluded to above and why it will make for fascinating reading when the full story gets told some day.





       The Braves had four of the draft's first 76 picks Thursday and select again at No. 80 on Friday. Even though MLB's complex formula allots them the relatively high total of just over $13 million to cover bonuses to their picks over the first 10 rounds, that amount of cash typically doesn't go far for a team with so many high picks.

       In order to get it done, the team made a deal with Anderson that goes something like this: "You'll get the prestige of being selected a bit higher than you were projected, but you have to compromise a little bit on money because if you fell all the way to the Cleveland Indians at No. 14 (as Baseball America projected), you'd be looking at slightly less than $3 million." There were undoubtedly some non-financial perks also negotiated with advice from Eric McQueen, Anderson's adviser, and everyone went home happy; the best guess from a friend of mine with some expertise in baseball draft algebra is that Anderson still walks away with $4 million or better.

       It's more than likely the Braves made similar arrangements with at least some of the others they selected in the first two rounds in order to be sure they could get the most out of their $13 million budget.

       "I'm just so happy for Ian and his family," Shenendehowa's Christodulu said. "They've committed to this process. You never know in this business, they're going to find out real soon that it's a business, but all of the hard work and commitment and how he's accepted coaching from us has paid off. I think the Braves have got a wonderful person that's going to develop in their system and it's just exciting."


      
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