By Laura Kersey
Former Colonel center fielder and Astros call-up Josh Anderson was traded to the Atlanta Braves Friday in return for relief pitcher Oscar Villarreal.The Braves needed a centerfielder replacement after releasing veteran all-star Andruw Jones in October.
Braves General Manager Frank Wren told MLB.com he thinks Anderson could be the person to fill the center field void.
“We think he has some upside,” Wren said. “We think he can be an everyday Major League center fielder.”
Twenty-five-year-old Anderson was promoted to the major leagues this past year when the Astros’ roster expanded for September call-ups.
Anderson made his immediate impact on the team by breaking a rookie record, as well as batting .358 and reaching a .412 on-base percentage in his first 21 major league games.
Although Anderson was hoping to begin this season with the Astros as the starting center fielder, he’s ready for the opportunity to begin a career with Atlanta.
“My goal going into the season is to start for somebody and that hasn’t changed,” Anderson told MLB.com. “Obviously I have to do what I can do…I’m very excited about the opportunity and looking forward to it.”
Anderson was drafted in the first round from Eastern in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft.
He spent little time at the Astros Class A affiliate, the Lexington Legends, before advancing to Advanced Class A Salem Avalanche in 2004. Anderson’s combined 79 stolen bases was the highest total in professional baseball that year.
The majority of Anderson’s past season was spent at Triple-A Round Rock. He hit .273 and successfully stole 40 of his 48 base attempts.
He also broke a 42-year-old team rookie record by reaching base six times in one game.
As a senior at Eastern, Anderson led the Colonels to a runner-up finish in the 2003 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. He earned conference Player of the Year honors and lead the nation with 57 steals as Eastern’s first-ever Louisville Slugger First Team All-American.
To see Anderson in action, the Braves will tentatively play the Cincinnati Reds in May 2008.,