Can Tim Anderson surpass Tyler Saladino as the White Sox shortstop?

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Oct. 10, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox infielder Tim Anderson plays for the Glendale Desert Dogs against the Scottsdale Scorpions during an Arizona Fall League game at Cubs Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Oct. 10, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox infielder Tim Anderson plays for the Glendale Desert Dogs against the Scottsdale Scorpions during an Arizona Fall League game at Cubs Park. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Chicago White Sox have a had a relatively productive offseason, despite the inability to sign any of the top free agents. With spring training quickly approaching, the Chicago White Sox will head to Glendale, Arizona with Tyler Saladino as their starting shortstop. Lurking behind Saladino could be the team’s top prospect according to Baseball America Tim Anderson, who is coming off of an impressive season for the White Sox Double-A affiliate the Birmingham Barons.

Anderson hit .312 last season with the Barons to go along with and on-base percentage of .350, 21 doubles and 49 stolen bases. The 2013 first round pick of the White Sox has been stellar at the plate since being drafted, but his defense has been a liability at shortstop. Anderson committed 34 errors in 2014 but was able to decrease that total to 25 in 2015. His fielding percentage increased from .910 during the 2014 season to .952 in 2015, however there is still work to do for the young shortstop.

Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Saladino on the other hand, was brilliant defensively at third base for the White Sox in 2015. After being called up before the all-star break, the former seventh round pick in the 2010 draft showcased great glove work in 60 games at third base. Saladino committed just five errors and compiled a .970 fielding percentage. He payed 11 games at shortstop and committed no errors. With the departure of Alexei Ramirez, Saladino will get the chance to be the White Sox starting shortstop on opening day.

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Although Saladino provides the White Sox with good defense, his offense isn’t great and the team could use another bat in their lineup. The current free agent market is scarce with shortstops, and the White Sox are not likely going to give up a draft pick to sign Ian Desmond. The White Sox could benefit from Anderson playing well during spring training.

If Anderson makes a good impression defensively, the White Sox could very well promote him to the majors but that would present many risks. The difference between the minors and majors is very huge, and some prospects never live up to their potential. The White Sox have not had many successful position players come from their farm system since Joe Crede, and Aaron Rowand.

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The White Sox would be wise to make sure Anderson could mentally handle a promotion to the majors, and deal with potential failure. If Anderson were to fail immediately upon promotion to the majors, he could potentially lose his confidence and never regain it. That’s not something this franchise needs, considering how they’re inability to develop a position player is maddening to its fan-base.

Saladino, however hasn’t played a full season in the majors, and last season hit .225 with an on-base percentage of .267. If the White Sox hope to contend in 2016, they will need better production from Saladino at the plate. Anderson could provide a spark for the team, but playing games in Triple-A for the Charlotte Knights might be the best option for him after spring training. If Anderson proves he can handle pitching in Triple-A and improves his defense, he could very well be with the White Sox in June, especially if Saladino struggles at the plate.

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