By Todd Purvis/Sports editor
Former Eastern baseball star Josh Anderson became a member of the 2004 Lexington Legends squad last week. Anderson currently bats lead-off and plays center field for the Legends.The Legends are the farm club affiliate of the Houston Astros in Major League Baseball. The Astros drafted Anderson in the fourth round of the 2003 draft.
“From a media standpoint, it’s going to bring more and more interest to not only the Astros organization, but to baseball as well,” Eastern baseball coach Elvis Dominguez said.
Anderson played three seasons at Eastern before the Astros picked him in the fourth round of the July 2003 draft.
“I’m thrilled to be playing for the Astros organization,” Anderson said. “The day I got drafted I was really excited because I thought to myself, the Astros have always been a class act organization, and they’ve always done things right, and it seems like they’ve never had any problems with their players and they just run their organization really well.”
Anderson grew up in the small Pulaski County town of Eubank, Ky., and now has the opportunity to go back and play minor league baseball in Lexington.
“It’s going to be a good feeling to be able to play not only in front of hometown people, but people from the state of Kentucky as well,” Anderson said.
Every time Anderson takes the field he is a threat to opposing teams in all aspects of the game.
“He’s an extremely hard worker and he’s got a knack for finding a way to beat you,” Dominguez said.
During Anderson’s career at Eastern he led the team in batting average each season. In his freshman year the center fielder hit .353, led the Colonels in triples and hits and led the OVC in stolen bases.
“Josh is a special kid,” Dominguez said. “He’s got great makeup and that’s why he’s going to be successful in baseball.”
Dominguez said Anderson is one of the best players he’s ever coached.
“I’ve had eight former players play in the major leagues, and he’s about as talented as any of them,” Dominguez said.
In his sophomore year Anderson led the team in batting average, runs scored, hits, triples and stolen bases.
Anderson’s junior year proved to be his most successful. Anderson was Eastern’s first-ever Louisville Slugger All-American First Team honoree. He led the nation in stolen bases and had the third-best batting average in Division I baseball.
During Anderson’s tenure he set Eastern’s single-season records in runs, hits, singles and stolen bases. Anderson’s hits and stolen-base records are also OVC records. He also tied the school record with 12 triples.
Anderson was named a second-team All-American by Baseball America, Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, Collegiate Baseball First-Team All-American, American Baseball Coaches Association All-South Region First Team and Honorable Mention All-American by CollegeBaseballInsider.com. Anderson was also one of 12 semifinalists for the Rotary Smith National Player of the Year.
The Eubank native is very optimistic about the success the Legends will have this season.
“I think our team is capable of winning a championship. We have a pretty good offensive team and our pitching staff is pretty well rounded. We’ve got a great chance of winning a lot of games,” Anderson said. “Our goal as a team is to win as many games as we can, play hard every night and let everything else take care of itself.”
Anderson’s role for the Legends squad is very similar to what it was at Eastern.
“I have to get on base and score as many runs as I can to give my team a chance and put runs on the board,” Anderson said.
Anderson credits his college baseball experience to the amount of success he’s had in the game up to this point.
“The amount of games we played in college, plus the traveling that we did, got me ready for the majors for the most part,” Anderson said.
The former Colonel is very excited about being able to play baseball in Kentucky again.
“It’s a great opportunity to be able to play this close to home,” Anderson said. “It’s ironic that a minor league baseball player gets a chance to come back even within several hours away from home to play, and for me to be a little over an hour from home is a great opportunity and I feel fortunate.”