On Wednesday afternoon, all eyes will be on the former Shen phenom who has taken MLB by storm in just a few short months. When Ian Anderson, the stud rookie starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, makes a start today in game 2 of the National League Division Series, he'll be doing so coming off one the most historic pitching performances by a rookie in MLB history. In his last start back on October 1st, the Rexford native with the rocket right arm pitched 6 innings, struck out 9 and gave up zero runs versus a very capable Cincinnati Reds team.  The Twitter world blew up immediately following his last start and the rest of the country seemed to appreciate what many in the Capital Region knew for years: the kid is a BEAST.  One scout said of Anderson, “I saw Gerrit Cole in high school, but Ian Anderson is the best high school pitcher I have ever seen.”

Never before has there been a local athlete on a professional stage this young in his career that has garnered such national praise. We've had a pretty good run over the last few years watching our hometown athletes perform on the highest level.  Latham's Tommy Kahnle has been a very important part of the Yankee bullpen over the last few years, but his 2020 season was cut short when he went on the IR after suffering a UCL injury in July.  Ironically enough, Kevin Huerter also a fellow Shen graduate, is an NBA starter also playing in Atlanta, just like his old high school baseball teammate Anderson.  Huerter was drafted by the Hawks in the first round of 2018 NBA draft and has been a very useful player for their young, up-and-coming squad.

But Ian Anderson is in rarified air; a young, highly prized, highly touted prospect who has been thrust into the limelight overnight and has over delivered. And today, the 22-year-old Anderson will stand alone on an island when he takes the ball in game two of NLDS at 2:08 pm in a game the Braves are expected to win.

The pressure of being a starting pitcher and taking the bump in a playoff game is unlike anything in professional sports. Baseball is certainly a team game, and you need the full compliment of guys around you to make plays, get hits and score runs.  But the starting pitcher sets the tone.  If the offense has a bad game, but the pitcher dominates, you'll more than likely get the win.  If the starting pitcher gets lit up, you can literally kiss any chance of a win goodbye.

But I don't think Anderson is worried about that happening, he's got plenty of confidence, swagger, and the kind of electric stuff that makes hitters dizzy in the batters box.  High praise for a young man who just 4 years ago was pitching Shen to a state title.

Now, he's a few wins away from a potential trip to the World Series while the Capital Region -  and the rest of the baseball world - watches in wonderment.

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