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Hatchlings: Missed Time and Ground Balls

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Hatchlings is a Future Redbirds series profiling the top prospects in the Cardinals minor league system. The series will conclude with a community vote to rank the pre-season top 20 Future Redbirds.

Charlie Tilson
Charlie Tilson
Jason Geil of J. Geil Photography at

Sam Gaviglio

Age: 23, 24 in May

Position: SP

Acquired: Draft, 2011: 5th round, 170th overall

Bats: R

Throws: R

Player Profile & Career Summary:

Drafted out of Oregon St., Gaviglio managed a pretty good first full season in 2012, striking out 20% of opposing batters and walking just 5.3% of them across 133 IP. Gaviglio was rewarded with a promotion to the High A Palm Beach Cardinals in 2013, however, he suffered an undisclosed arm injury (most likely fatigue) after just five starts and sat out until August. After getting a couple of rehab starts in the GCL, he closed out the year with two more starts for the PB Cards. Overall he posted a 19% K-rate with a 7.3% BB-rate. Combined with a sparkly .239 BABIP from his opponents, his ERA was a sparkly 2.72 in just under 40 innings, with a FIP of 3.33. To make up for lost time, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League at the end of the season, where he continued to find success with a 21:8 K:BB ratio in 27 and 2/3 IP.

Pitching Profile:

Gaviglio has a fastball in the high 80s to low 90s, and makes heavy use of a sinking two-seamer to generate ground balls. He mixes in a changeup and slider, but he relies mostly on the sinker. From Azru’s profile on him last spring after Gaviglio was excluded from the FR Top 20:

"What makes Gaviglio special is that sinking fastball. Gaviglio spent 2012 in the Quad Cities rotation among the Midwest League. He started 23 games for 133 innings and had one of the top 5 groundball rates in the league among pitchers with 50+ innings."

Gaviglio has done more than just generate ground balls so far though, he has also produced good strikeout and walk rates -- though not elite rates, like he has for ground balls.

2014 Outlook:

It’s unfortunate, obviously, that Gaviglio missed so much of 2013; his sample size at PB is too small to read much into. Before Gaviglio can be considered a top prospect, he needs to show that his rates, and arm, can hold over a full season at higher levels. It will take at least 100 innings of success at AA before we can know whether Gaviglio is a real prospect, or just a polished college pitcher succeeding against Single A competition.


Gaviglio should start out at High-A and move quickly to AA, unless he impresses in the spring. In that case, expect him to spend a full season in Springfield. If he’s successful, he could be competing for a bullpen spot in 2015, or a backend rotation spot for another team.

Charlie Tilson

Age: 21

Position: CF

Acquired: Draft, 2011: 2nd round, 79th overall

Bats: L

Throws: L

Charlie Tilson, OF St. Louis Cardinals (via Baseball Instinct)

Player Profile & Career Summary:

The first of a handful of HS athletes taken in the 2011 draft, Tilson is the most advanced of the group including CJ McElroy and Kenneth Peoples-Walls, even after missing all of 2012 with a spring shoulder injury. Tilson made his delayed full season debut at Low-A Peoria last year, playing a hundred games with a line of .303/.349/.388. He also stole 15 bases for the Chiefs, getting caught only six times. In late August he was promoted to the PB Cardinals, where he posted similar numbers in nine games.


As you might guess from the numbers above, Tilson does not have a lot of power, as noted in his MLB draft profile. He’s primarily a contact hitter who seemed to make progress as the season went on, after a rough April (.243/.274/.257). With a low walk rate, 6.1%, he relied on a .349 BABIP to post a decent OBP in Peoria. It’s impossible to say with any reliability how much of that BABIP is due to talent, but he will definitely need to improve his batting eye if he is going to be a productive offensive player, since he is never going to hit for much power. Watching the video from Baseball Instinct above, it seems like he is trying to not hit for power, getting out in front of pitches to hit the ball the other way, but I’ll defer to others for swing analysis.

On the bases, he’s an above average runner, which may contribute some to his BABIP, but he’s not the sort of stolen base weapon that is going to get a lot of attention.

Tilson has the range to play CF in the majors, which is good, because he lacks the arm for right field and the power that is typically expected from left fielders (and right fielders, I suppose).

2014 Outlook:

The past season was largely a success for Tilson, who was still fairly raw when he was drafted and had the misfortune to miss the entirety of what would have been his first season. To jump straight into full season ball and play his way up to High-A is an accomplishment. Now he needs to build on that and refine some of his skills. He’s unlikely to show much power moving forward, and at 5’11" doesn’t really have the typical power hitter’s frame. If he can develop an average walk rate and put balls in the gaps, he could be an average center fielder with an average to above-average offensive profile.


The Cardinals will have Tilson pick up where he left off in Palm Beach. There’s a bit of a clusterf bottleneck for outfielders in the system, so he’s likely to spend the entire season there, which is fine since there’s no need to rush him at 21.