Chicago and the surrounding suburbs have a great tradition of growing their own athletes who would eventually star on Chicago teams. Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Dick Butkus, Charlie Tilson…wait, what? While comparing Charlie Tilson, the 24 year old White Sox center fielder, to all-time greats like Wade and Butkis might be seen like a stretch, we ARE talking about a player who hit .500 in the major leagues last year (2 at bats, 1 hit.). All joking aside, Sox fans should get to know Tilson because it is expected that he will be patrolling center field for 2017, and if all goes according to plan, for the foreseeable future.
Charlie Tilson was acquired by the White Sox at the 2016 trade deadline from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for relief pitcher Zach Duke. Tilson, from Wilmette, IL, instantly became the #5 top prospect in the White Sox system at the time of the trade. The White Sox had kept their eyes on Tilson ever since he was drafted out of New Trier high school in 2011. “Charlie is a left-handed-hitting outfielder whose speed and defensive ability enable him to do a number of things well to help his team win ballgames,” said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn in the team’s press release announcing the move. If that description sounds familiar it’s because Hahn said similar things about Adam Eaton when the Sox originally traded for him in 2013. “Adam provides us with a smart, high-energy baseball player for the top of the lineup,” said Hahn. “He knows the strike zone, is disruptive on the bases and provides solid defense in center field.” If there was any wonder as to why the Sox were comfortable trading away a capable center fielder like Eaton look no further than Tilson.

 

The White Sox wasted no time to see what they had in Tilson as they thrust him into the starting lineup two days after the trade. Tilson called up his parents before the game to tell them the good news. “When I got to call them the second time around, I told my dad to put it on speaker phone,” said Tilson, who grew up a Sox fan. “… My voice was shaking. It was unbelievable, something you think about your entire life, and to be able to come back home and play for the team I rooted for growing up, I feel so fortunate.” (Quote courtesy of Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune.) On August 2, 2016, against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, Charlie Tilson started in center field and in his first big league at bat he singled off of Anibal Sanchez. Unfortunately, the bad luck felt by other White Sox rookies in 2016 caught Tilson and in the fifth inning Tilson injured his left hamstring trying to dive for a Miguel Cabrera line drive. He exited the game, got placed on the disabled list, and did not play again in 2016.
Tilson has been focused this off season and expects to be completely ready when spring training starts up in February. Tilson participated in the hitting mini camp with Todd Steverson earlier this month and did so without any restrictions. “He looks good in the cage,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. “He’s handling the bat, hitting the ball all over the plate, something you would want someone of his position to be able to do. We are hoping that he’s healthy enough to get back to where he was in terms of his running ability. All the reports are that this is a very solid looking player.” (Quote courtesy of Scott Merkin at mlb.com.)

 

Expect spring training to be a coming out party for Charlie Tilson. Adam Eaton was a fan favorite for his grit and hustle and he is hard to replace, but all signs point to Tilson being the kind of player White Sox fans love. Tilson’s minor league stats were .293/.346/.392 and more specifically his AAA stats were .282/.345/.407. In addition, last year at AAA, he was 15 for 18 in stolen bases. If he keeps up those numbers he can be an on-base force at the top of the lineup paired with Tim Anderson. Statistics and comparisons aside, Charlie Tilson is a White Sox fan playing for the White Sox. Dreams like that are reason enough to support him.

One Comment

  1. Billy Busfare

    January 25, 2017 at 6:05 AM

    Looking forward to seeing young Mr. Tilson in action this spring (and beyond).

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