White Sox still have void in center field. Can rookie Charlie Tilson become opening day starting center fielder this upcoming season?
With Austin Jackson and Adam Eaton gone, could Charlie Tilson be the Opening Day center fielder for the Chicago White Sox? Given he has struggled with the injury bug since entering pro ball, would it make sense to give him a shot in a throwaway year for the South Siders?
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The answer to that is a resounding yes, and for the simple reason that they have no one else. Even J.B. Shuck has moved on to the Minnesota Twins, leaving no one to fill the void in center field. Tilson brings speed to the table, as he has swiped as many has 46 bags in a season, given it was in the minors. He can also hit for a high average, hitting nearly .300 (.293 to be exact) in his minor league career.
There is one problem with Tilson being a speed threat. That being he is coming off a hamstring tear last season, which Tilson could easily re-aggravate in the future. To compound this issue he has virtually no power, as Tilson’s high for home runs in the minors was seven in 509 at bats back in 2014.
While he does have plus speed, keep in mind Tilson is far from a future MLB star. To begin with, he was acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals for LHP Zach Duke last season, where he was not even a top ten prospect in the St. Louis system. Due to the weakness of the White Sox system at that time, Tilson immediately vaulted into the into the top eight. The point here is simple: even in a system that was not elite such as the Cardinals, he failed to crack the top ten.
Tilson is unlikely to be around the next time the White Sox contend, whenever that happens to be. While he is a solid backup on a bad team, there is a reason as to why he was minor league depth for the Cardinals, although part of that was due to injuries. The bottom line with him is he gets injured far too often, and is a backup outfielder due to his below average arm and power.
All in all, Tilson is likely nothing more than a roster filler. On the other hand if he can stay healthy, Tilson could make for valuable depth but that is not a likely scenario looking at his past history. Speed is always priceless, and teams love to have it coming off their bench. However, odds are the Tilson will not last in the majors long. Expect to see a lot of these type of players in 2017, White Sox fans.