Tyler Anderson can’t wait to join fellow Las Vegans in majors

Until last week when the streak ended, a Las Vegas kid had been selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft for five consecutive years.

Bryce Harper (2010), Kris Bryant (2013) and Joey Gallo (2012) are busting fences in The Show, which you may have heard about. Pitchers Erick Fedde (2014) and Tyler Anderson (2011) were working hard to join them before both were injured.

Anderson seemed on the verge of joining the local sluggers under the bright lights in the big baseball cities before a stress fracture in his pitching elbow flared up. He was sensational at Class AA Tulsa in 2014: 7-4 with a stingy 1.98 ERA with 40 walks and 123 strikeouts in 23 starts.

He was named a Texas League all-star, then was named Texas League Pitcher of the Year.

The Rockies, who selected Anderson 20th overall out of Oregon in 2011, probably could use him right now — Colorado is ranked 30th, dead last, in pitching among the major league clubs with a composite ERA of 4.78. Not all of that can be blamed on the rarefied air of Coors Field.

But when I spoke with Anderson, he was not in the fast lane to Denver. He was on a slower road to Albuquerque, N.M., to hang out with former teammates and coaches who have moved on to Triple A.

He said it was fantastic his fellow first-rounders were representing Las Vegas at such young ages and in such admirable fashion. He hopes to be up there with them soon, trying to get them out with high cheese, or even with low and away cheese.

“But I guess this is where I’m at,” said the 25-year-old left-hander, although he wasn’t quite sure where he was at — he was driving from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Isotopes Park, and he said he had never driven to Albuquerque before. From his description of the landscape and the billboards, he may have been near Gallup.

Anderson, who is named for Tyler Houston, another former first-round draft pick from Las Vegas, stands 6 feet 4 inches and throws four pitches. He’s not overpowering, but he’s sneaky fast.

He also has excellent control and colorful uncles — I met them at his parents’ home on the day he was drafted.

He said the stress fracture occurred when he was pitching at Modesto in high Class A ball in 2013. He mostly pitched through pain that was nagging and intermittent last season until the Texas League playoffs, when the parent club decided to sit him down as a precaution.

He’s still sitting.

He’s being treating by Dr. Elliott Schwartz, a bone specialist based in Northern California. Anderson hasn’t thrown a baseball since last season, not so much as a Wiffle ball in the backyard. Doctors orders.

“The goal is not to pitch Wiffle ball; the goal is to pitch in the major leagues,” the former Spring Valley High ace said.

So he went to spring training and learned how to cover first base on bunts, and he discussed pitching philosophy with the Rockies’ starting rotation. He did not throw high cheese, or low and away cheese.

The long layoff is starting to get to him.

“Oh, you have no idea,” he said on the road to Albuquerque.

He hopes he’ll be allowed to start throwing on the sidelines soon, simulated games and whatnot, but he says that’s up to the Rockies. Same for when he’ll next pitch in a game and at what classification.

He feels good, he feels strong, the doctors say he should come back at 100 percent. Lord knows he has had plenty of rest.

Before the injury, Anderson was projected as a back of the starting rotation guy for the Rockies. Colorado traded Juan Nicasio to the Dodgers to make room for him on the 40-man roster.

Nicasio had been a mainstay of the Colorado pitching staff as recently as 2013 when he made 31 starts. So it would appear Anderson still figures highly in the Rockies’ plans.

When we chatted Tuesday, I could hear 18-wheelers and other traffic over the left-hander’s cellphone.

I started to ask if he was hungry, because I knew places around Gallup where he could get a Navajo taco, and that there was a truck stop between Gallup and Grants that served fine grub.

But Tyler Anderson said he had no plans of getting off Interstate 40 on the road to Albuquerque. From there, it’s only another 448 miles to Coors Field, provided one is throwing strikes and his arm stays healthy.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.

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