Tim Anderson has forced the White Sox to act.
The shortstop, the team’s top prospect according to Baseball America, has been promoted to the major leagues on Friday from Triple-A Charlotte. To make room on the 40-man roster for the club’s 2013 first-round pick, former National League Most Valuable Player Jimmy Rollins has been designated for assignment.
The moves come 24 hours after the White Sox gave starting pitcher Mat Latos his walking papers and promoted rookie pitcher Tyler Danish to the majors. The promotion also took place much earlier than the White Sox originally anticipated -- they intended for Anderson to spend all season at Charlotte. But a recent hot streak by Anderson, who is hitting .304/.325/.409 with four home runs, 20 RBIs and 11 steals in 256 plate appearances, and a lackluster offense have spurred the White Sox into action.
“So far (Anderson) has done his part to force up that time frame,” general manager Rick Hahn said Tuesday. “Ultimately, when Tim arrives in Chicago it will be because we feel he’s ready to help make us better, not because of anything that is going on in this clubhouse. More about what Tim is capable of doing at the big league level. We’ll pick that time accordingly.”
The time is now, apparently.
Not only is Anderson hot, Rollins and the White Sox have been quite the opposite.
Rollins had a .624 OPS through 166 plate appearances this season, including a .502 mark against right-handed pitchers. Since May 13, Rollins has a .528 OPS in 58 plate appearances for a team that has lost 20 of its last 27. Recently, second-year shortstop Tyler Saladino has played more often for the White Sox, who are averaging 4.02 runs per game.
Meanwhile, Anderson has torn up International League pitching for more than a month after a slow start. Part of his hot streak has included a much-improved strikeout rate. Anderson, who is hitting .361/.382/.517 with 13 extra-base hits and seven steals in his last 153 plate appearances, has reduced his K-rate by nearly 10 percent.
Anderson, who turns 23 later this month, struck out 29 times in his first 103 plate appearances or 28.1 percent of the time. He has whiffed 29 times in his last 153 PAs (18.9 percent). He has only walked eight times this season.
While a period of adjustment to major league pitching is expected, the White Sox think Anderson can handle it. Outfielder J.B. Shuck said he’s very impressed with how Anderson comports himself after the two spent more than a month together at Charlotte.
“He has that personality where he’s not going to get rattled by anything,” Shuck said earlier this month. “I think he’ll do well when he gets his chance.
“He got a little taste (of adversity) this year. When I first went down, he might have been hitting .215 or .220 and you would have never known. He went about his business and continued to have fun and just got better. It clicked for him or whatever it was. I think he went on a stretch where I don’t think he got out for like six games. That’s just his personality and that’s why I think when he does get up here, he’s going to do well.”
Anderson’s arrival comes only three years and four days after the White Sox made him the 17th pick out of East Central CC in Decatur, Miss. Of the players drafted ahead of him, only the Cubs’ Kris Bryant, the Colorado Rockies’ Jon Gray and Miami Marlins’ Colin Moran arrived in the majors faster.
Hahn has long suggested Anderson could force his way into the majors at some point this season. But he also noted it would be up to the player --- that the White Sox wouldn’t call him up unless he was ready.
“You’ll know when you see him walk through that clubhouse door,” Hahn said Tuesday. “A month ago I was asked about by national reporter if there was concern about Tim Anderson. And now rightfully so people are asking if he’s ready. Shows how quickly things can turn and when guys can push the time frame it comes quickly. Our belief from the start of the offseason was Tim is a level to level guy who performed well at each level, but in all probability he’s going to have to spend a year in Charlotte. We tried to remain open minded and the good ones have a way to force the time frame.”