White Sox

Meet the Prospects: Charlie Tilson

Meet the Prospects: Charlie Tilson

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

Charlie Tilson

Tilson, the 25-year-old outfielder, has been associated with only one word since joining the White Sox organization: injuries.

A Chicagoland native, Tilson came over in the July 31, 2016, trade that sent Zach Duke to the St. Louis Cardinals. An intriguing return for Duke, Tilson made his major league debut two days later, picking up a hit in his first at-bat but tearing his hamstring in the same game. That ended his 2016 season just as it was getting started, and the same fate struck in 2017, as well, with a pair of injuries that wiped out last year for Tilson.

Tilson finally returned to action last fall, playing in nine Arizona Fall League games. He picked up six hits in his 40 plate appearances and walked seven times. Two of his hits were doubles.

There's still reason to be excited for Tilson potentially making an impact in center field for the White Sox. In 100 games with Triple-A Memphis, a Cardinals affiliate, in 2016, Tilson slashed .282/.345.407 with 16 doubles, eight triples and four home runs. He walked 33 times compared to 51 strikeouts and stole 15 bases. He scored 53 runs and drove in 34 more.

Tilson's numbers were even better — including 46 stolen bases — with Double-A Springfield in 2015. Who knows if he can rediscover that base-stealing ability after a series of leg and foot injuries, but it's something to look for as the White Sox rebuild moves along.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Tilson rated as the No. 19 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Tilson in the video above.

The 10 most important White Sox in 2019: No. 10 Zack Collins

The 10 most important White Sox in 2019: No. 10 Zack Collins

With the rebuilding White Sox, a good deal more attention has been placed on the prospects on their way to the South Side than many of the players who are already there. 2019 should be no different, with Eloy Jimenez (the top-ranked prospect in the organization) and Dylan Cease (who MLB Pipeline named its minor league pitcher of the year in 2018) on the verge of reaching the majors and ready to bring with them tangible examples of rebuilding progress.

But Jimenez and Cease — like Michael Kopech last season — can’t swing things from rebuilding mode to contention mode all by themselves. That transition can’t happen until a whole host of long-term pieces arrive. And so the arrival of someone like Zack Collins carries plenty of importance, as well.

Unlike the other two, Collins’ ascension to the big leagues in 2019 isn’t exactly assured. It would make sense to see him, along with fellow catching prospect Seby Zavala, sometime after rosters expand in September. He spent the entire 2018 season at Double-A Birmingham and figures to spend close to the entire 2019 season at Triple-A Charlotte.

Part of Collins’ importance stems from his status as the team’s first-round pick in 2016. White Sox first-round picks haven’t had a ton of success since Carlos Rodon in 2014. Carson Fulmer had a disastrous 2018 campaign three years after he was taken in the first round. Zack Burdi, Collins’ fellow 2016 first-rounder, is still on the mend from Tommy John surgery. Jake Burger, the 2017 first-round selection, suffered a pair of Achilles tears last season. Collins is hardly the organization’s only hope in that department, with last summer’s choice, Nick Madrigal, already ranked as the team’s No. 5 prospect. And Burdi and Burger can still develop into successful players, despite their bad injury luck. But as patience gets stretched thinner and thinner as the rebuilding process marches on, hitting on a recent first-rounder would be a very good thing for the White Sox.

And Collins showed some good signs last year. He reached base at a terrific .382 clip, walking 101 times. A slight slide in his home-run total (from 19 in 2017 to 15 in 2018) was at least aesthetically mitigated by his victory in the Home Run Derby at the Southern League All-Star Game.

But there are perhaps more questions than answers about how he’ll fare at the major league level at this point. Collins said during the early weeks of spring training that he felt good about how his defense has progressed, and he got good reviews in that department from elsewhere in the organization. But those questions won’t go away until he’s the everyday backstop in the big leagues. If and when that happens, then the questions about his defensive abilities that have hounded him since he was drafted can go away. Collins also hit just .234 last season, struck out 158 times and finished with a .786 OPS, the lowest of his minor league career to this point.

None of that is to suggest that Collins can’t still blossom into the White Sox catcher of the future. He’s the leading candidate to fill that role right now, and the team has plenty of faith that he will live up to his first-round status.

But 2019 is an important year for him. After Jimenez and Cease, he'll likely be the biggest-name prospect to reach the majors this season. Given developmental delays caused by injuries elsewhere in the organization, it'll be good for the White Sox if Collins can show some more progress in the rebuilding process simply by making it to the big leagues.

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Eloy Jimenez celebrates new contract with monster day in spring training

Eloy Jimenez celebrates new contract with monster day in spring training

The ink on Eloy Jimenez's contract is still drying, but the outfielder already celebrated with a big game in spring training.

Jimenez and Rick Hahn spoke at a press conference mere hours before Saturday's Cactus League game against the Dodgers took place. Then Jimenez did his thing with the bat in the game.

The 22-year-old opened with a walk then followed with a pair of singles later in the game. He saved his best for last with a home run in the eighth inning.

Jimenez had not been having a good spring training and was even sent down to minor league camp nearly two weeks ago. Saturday's action was his first game in big league camp since March 11.

Before Saturday he was hitting .154/.154/.346 in nine games. The 3-for-3 game moved Jimenez's spring numbers to a much more respectable .241/.267/.517. His walk on Saturday was his first in the Cactus League. He now has two home runs.

During Saturday's press conference, Hahn went out of his way to say they are not making any announcements about the Opening Day roster yet. It is still assumed the Jimenez will start with the White Sox, but Hahn said they would like to have face-to-face conversations with the other players involved when it comes to the 25-man roster decisions.

With that said, Jimenez did bat sixth on Saturday. That could be a glimpse of where he will bat on Opening Day with Yoan Moncada (who continued his hot spring with two doubles and a home run on Saturday), Tim Anderson, Jose Abreu, Yonder Alonso and Welington Castillo batting ahead of Jimenez in the lineup.

Plenty of eyes with remain on Jimenez for the rest of spring and in 2019. He delivered in his first game since signing his new contract.

 

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