CLEARWATER, Fla. — Drew Anderson remembers his telephone ringing in November. He remembers hearing Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan congratulate him and tell him that he'd been placed on the team's 40-man roster.
Anderson was elated.
"It was awesome," the right-handed pitcher said the other day.
So awesome that Anderson celebrated in an unusual way.
"I busted out 50 pushups," he said. "I had so much adrenaline."
The internal discussions that teams have when considering which players to protect on the 40-man roster and which ones to risk losing in the Rule 5 draft are often long and detailed and decisions are not always reached easily.
But in Anderson's case ...
"It was not a long conversation," Jordan said. "The feeling was, 'Put him on the roster. Don't lose him. Let's talk about the next guy.'"
"Across the board," minor-league pitching coordinator Rafael Chaves said. "And that's not common for a kid that pitched in A-ball."
Anderson, who turns 23 on March 22, will get his first taste of Double A ball in April.
Clearly, the Phillies are high on him.
But how high?
"We've got scouts who will tell you that he might be our best pitching prospect," Jordan said.
Given some of the power arms that the Phils have collected in the low minors, that's quite a statement.
If it seems as if Anderson has flown below the radar since being drafted by the Phillies in 2012 it's because, well, he's done just that.
For a while.
He received little interest from four-year colleges coming out of Galena High School in Reno, Nevada and was headed to Mesa Community College in Arizona before the Phillies selected him in the 21st round that year.
"My name never really got out there," he said. "Really only the Phillies looked at me. (Area scout) Joey Davis saw me and he said he liked that I had a fluid arm and he liked the way the ball jumped out of my hand. He saw me as a sleeper pick. I just wanted to play ball so I said, 'Yeah, I'll give it a shot.'"
Jordan recalled seeing Anderson pitch at Single A Lakewood early in the 2014 season. Anderson had added strength to his 6-foot-3 frame and his fastball velocity had jumped from 90-92 mph to 93-95 mph.
"It was just a matter of physical maturity, his body getting stronger, and we were really excited," Jordan said.
Anderson did not make it through that season, however. He came down with an elbow injury and the following spring became a statistic — a pitcher who needed Tommy John surgery.
Anderson missed the 2015 season. He came back in May of last year and made 15 starts between Lakewood and Clearwater. At Clearwater, the Phillies' advanced Single A stop, Anderson posted a 1.93 ERA in 32⅔ innings. He struck out 37 and walked 10.
The rehabilitation process after Tommy John surgery focuses on more than just the elbow. Special attention is paid to the shoulder and the legs. Working under Joe Rauch, the Phillies' minor-league rehab specialist, Anderson gained much strength in those areas and it showed in his fastball velocity last summer.
He got it up to 97 mph.
He also has a good breaking ball and an improving changeup to go with a classic pitcher's body. He has long arms and weighs 205 pounds.
"We just felt some team out there would have taken him even if they had to stash him in the bullpen," said Jordan, expounding on the Phils' decision to add Anderson to the 40-man roster in November. "He's too big an asset."
Anderson is excited about making the jump to Reading this season. He's never pitched more than 76 innings as a pro and now that he's healthy needs to start racking up mound time and experience.
Anderson mentioned how hard he worked this offseason to get ready for his first trip to big-league camp and what lies beyond when he heads to Double A.
The hard work started with those 50 pushups that he busted out upon learning that he'd been placed on the 40-man roster.
"After hearing that it was time to kick it in gear," he said. "I was like, 'Let's do this.'
"I've had some ups and downs, but I feel like I'm on track now."