The Rangers announced they’ve selected reliever Grant Anderson onto the MLB roster. Texas optioned southpaw Cody Bradford to Triple-A Round Rock in a corresponding move. To create a spot on the 40-man roster, the Rangers designated minor league righty Ricky Vanasco for assignment.
Anderson, 25, gets a big league call for the first time. He was selected by the Mariners in the 21st round of the 2018 draft, signing for $50K out of McNeese State. The following spring, Texas acquired Anderson in an intra-division trade that sent hard-throwing reliever Connor Sadzeck to Seattle. Anderson has climbed the ranks of the Rangers’ system since then, first reaching the upper minors in 2021.
Over the past two years, Anderson has bounced between Double-A Frisco and Round Rock. He’s spent the majority of 2023 at the top minor league level, frequently working multiple innings of relief. Anderson has tossed 21 1/3 frames over 11 appearances for the Express, posting a 3.80 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
More impressive has been Anderson’s ability to miss bats this year. He’s punched out an eye-popping 43.2% of opposing hitters, the highest rate among 280 Triple-A pitchers with 20+ innings. Even with an elevated 11.4% walk rate, Anderson has racked up enough strikeouts to get a spot in Bruce Bochy’s bullpen. Texas’ major league relief corps has been light on whiffs, ranking 25th with a 22.3% strikeout rate. A middling bullpen has been the only real question mark for a club that leads the AL West with a 33-19 record and has outscored opponents by an MLB-best 124 runs.
In order to add Anderson to the major league club, Texas runs the risk of losing a young pitcher who was somewhat recently among their better prospects. Vanasco appeared among Baseball America’s top 25 minor league talents in a quality farm system each year from 2020-22. Praised for a mid-upper 90s fastball and a pair of quality breaking pitches, Vanasco was thrown off track by 2021 Tommy John surgery. He returned to start 21 games in High-A last year but was again delayed early this season by a Spring Training knee injury that required surgery.
Vansaco recently returned from the minor league injured list but has been blown up for ten runs in 2 1/3 innings over two starts in Frisco. That costs him the 40-man roster spot he first secured over the 2021-22 offseason when Texas added him to keep him out of the Rule 5 draft. They’ll now have a week to trade him or try to run him through waivers.
The 24-year-old still has yet to reach Triple-A, much less appear in the majors. He owns a 3.84 ERA with a 30.9% strikeout rate over 178 career minor league frames. Vansaco is in his second of three option years and could draw some interest from other teams based on his previous prospect standing.