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White Sox ink top pick
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06/17/2003  7:30 PM ET 
White Sox ink top pick
Anderson to report to Rookie League on Friday
Vote now for the 2003 All-Star game
<i>Baseball America</i> rated Brian Anderson as the second-best "five-tool talent" in college before the draft. (courtesy University of Arizona)
CHICAGO -- Before Brian Anderson took batting practice at Dodger Stadium prior to a White Sox-Dodgers game on June 3, he sounded as if he was a young man eager to work out a contract and begin his Major League career.

The junior from the University of Arizona then proceeded to hit six balls into the stands in left and left-center field, showing signs that his ascension up the White Sox minor league ladder could be very quick.

“If you saw him take batting practice at Dodger Stadium, he might have shown you a few things,” said White Sox senior director of player personnel Duane Shaffer. “It’s very difficult to hit it out there at night.”

Anderson begins his White Sox playing career Friday afternoon, when he reports to their Rookie League franchise in Great Falls. But the team’s first-round pick from the 2003 First-Year Player Draft officially joined the organization Tuesday by agreeing to terms on a contract.

The 15th pick overall, who hit .366 with 14 home runs and 62 RBIs at Arizona last season, reportedly was given a $1.6 million signing bonus.

“I figured the quicker I got out there to play, the better,” said Anderson, who reports to Chicago on Thursday for his physical and possibly to throw out the first pitch before heading to Montana. “We both cooperated, and it worked out well for both sides.”

Anderson would like to be on the 40-man roster and get into big-league camp this spring. But he’s not putting any extra pressure on himself for immediate greatness.

Shaffer conveyed the organization’s excitement upon getting their first-round pick aboard. Despite a lack of pure speed, by Anderson’s own admission, the White Sox project him as a center fielder.

“One of the things we like is the strength of his hands,” Shaffer said. “When you have the strength in your hands, you don’t swing as hard. You don’t have to muscle up on a swing. He has a real easy power with his hands.

“He’s just a tremendous kid. He is very anxious and wanted to go. He’s very even-tempered and anxious, but that’s a good combination.”

With Anderson signed, the White Sox have inked eight of their top 10 selections. Outfielder Ryan Sweeney, the second-round pick from Xavier High School in Iowa, and Fraser Dizard, a left-handed pitcher from USC selected in the 10th round, are the only two unsigned.

Sweeney currently is playing for Xavier, with the Iowa high school season running through the summer. He also is dealing with the perceived snub of falling from a projected first-rounder to late in the second round.

“He is our next project,” Shaffer said of Sweeney. “We talked to the agent and the kid and his family. We are keeping it as close as possible and we hope to get it done soon.”

Anderson’s power display at Dodger Stadium didn’t influence the club’s rapidness at signing their top pick, although they are hoping it’s a sign of big things to come. Shaffer pointed out that Harold Baines, the first overall pick in the 1977 draft, didn’t hit a ball out of the cage in his first batting practice session.

Baines finished with 2,866 hits. But as a West Coast native, the hitting session meant a great deal to Anderson.

“My dad and I grew up big-time Dodger fans,” Anderson said. “To get to go out there in Dodger Stadium with the team that just drafted you. ... The White Sox really showed me how much interest they really had in me. That was special.”

“It’s always great to get your first-round guy,” Shaffer added. “We started working on this way before the draft. We’ve been talking to the agent and the kid, leading to what happened today. We are really happy.”

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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