Cheap Speed To Target: The White Sox’ Charlie Tilson Is Worth The Late Round Flier

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Player – Charlie Tilson
Team – Chicago White Sox
NFBC ADP – 407.54

It’s evident that no one is paying much attention to Tilson, and maybe that has to do with him not being guaranteed a spot in the starting lineup.  When you look at his 2016 production at Triple-A, there also doesn’t appear to be a reason to get excited:

.282 (99-351), 4 HR, 34 RBI, 53 R, 15 SB

Throw in tearing his hamstring one game into his first taste of the Majors and it all comes together for the perfect storm of reasons to overlook him.  That said he has as good a chance as anyone to not only claim the centerfield job, but also hit atop the batting order for the rebuilding franchise. 

Tilson swiped 46 bases at Double-A in ’15 (by far a career high) and his speed was never a question.  It likely just took him time to develop and learn how to utilize his speed, and that skill isn’t going to disappear.  Here’s what we had to say about him prior to ’16, when we ranked him as the Cardinals’ third best prospect (click here for their entire 2016 Top 10 list):

“Could he make us forget about Jason Heyward? Tilson has the potential to develop into your prototypical top of the order bat, something he showed signs of last season at Double-A as he hit .295 with 46 SB. There was never a question about his speed, so it was nice to see it present itself on the field. He also showed improved plate discipline, with a 12.1% strikeout rate, though he could do a bit of a better job of drawing a walk (7.7%). While there’s never going to be significant power, he could easily continue developing into a three category performer.”

Obviously speed alone isn’t going to be enough, but he has shown an improved command of the strike zone as he’s reached the highest levels of the minors.  Just look at the strikeout // walk rates from the past two seasons:

  • Double-A (2015) – 12.1% // 7.7%
  • Triple-A (2016) – 12.9% // 8.4%

That’s impressive, and he takes an approach at the plate to try and utilize his speed (GO/AO of 1.54 and 1.91 the past two seasons).  The more he’s on base (he posted OBP of .351 and .345) the more opportunities he’ll have to put his wheels on display.  Maybe he’s not the 40+ stolen base threat, but could he hit .270 with 30+ SB and ample runs scored?

There is the threat that Yoan Moncada ultimately hits atop the order, though he has work to do and with more power may be better suited to hit second (or ultimately in the middle of the order).  At his current price tag and with the questionable speed around the league, it’s hard not to put value in targeting Tilson as an end-game flier.  Clearly the price isn’t high, and in many cases he could go undrafted.  At this price point, there’s simply no reason not to roll the dice and see if you catch lightning.

Sources – Fangraphs, STATS, MILB.com

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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Position
Last Updated
Catcher01/09/17
First Base01/16/17
Second Base01/23/17
Third Base02/06/17
Shortstop02/13/17
Outfielder12/05/16
Starting Pitcher12/13/16
Relief Pitcher01/02/17

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