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Future Redbirds Top 25 Prospects for 2015: #15 - Charlie Tilson

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Probably one of the lowest rankings out there for Tilson heading into 2015, but I don't feel like he's improved much developmentally over the last few years. Basically, he's the same guy the Cardinals drafted out of high school without much added to his game.

Charlie Tilson
Charlie Tilson
mwltraveler.com

Acquired: Draft, 2011 (2nd Round, #79); New Trier High School, Illinois

Birthday: 12/2/1992

Age: 22

Minor League Stops in 2014: Palm Beach (A+), Springfield (AA)

2014 Totals:

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

K%

BB%

wOBA

547 .287 .331 .387 .100 19.0 5.5 .358 (PB), .282 (SPR)


F-R Grades:

(You can find the primer on the 20-80 grading scale here)

Hit

Run

Arm

Field

Power

50/55 65 45 60 40/45

Three above average tools and at a premium position on the diamond? How is this guy down at #15 on a list featuring no superstars ? Those are probably the questions that anyone looking at this would probably like to ask, so lets go about addressing them, shall we?

Charlie Tilson has always been a veritable toolbox of talent. His 5 tool-ness is what made him a second round pick in the first place. The issue is that few of these tools are turning into legitimate skills that will play at the big league level on a regular basis. Tilson makes a good amount of contact, but 58% of his balls in play end up on the ground.

courtesy mlbfarm.com

Given his speed, that might not be such a bad thing (Lou Brown would certainly be pleased), but when 3/5 of the pitches you put in play are on the ground, it's going to be awfully hard to have any sort of power in your offensive profile. His batting averages are fairly empty and I believe they will fall in AA and AAA simply because there's better talent defensively in the high minors so he'll get fewer cheap infield hits on ground balls that would be outs in the big leagues.

As far as his speed goes, Tilson is a legit 65 runner, maybe even a 70 on that scale. While his raw speed is a big reason why he's an above average defender, it doesn't play a lot in his offensive profile.  He ekes out a few base hits that he wouldn't otherwise have, will stretch the occasional double into a triple, but he's not a good base stealer (just 27 steals and a 62% success rate in 237 minor league games) and he doesn't seem especially adept at taking the extra base either. Kolten Wong isn't as fast as Charlie Tilson, but Wong gets far more out of the speed he does have than Tilson does. It just seems like there's something instinctual missing from Tilson's baserunning and it's hard to see how that improves if so.

Tilson's power profile, in my view, is the place where he could improve significantly.  He hit 7 homers last season and 5 were in the pitching haven of the Florida State league.  The other two I happen to have video of, courtesy of MiLB.com:

<iframe width="960" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1nMsy4qAmUU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

<iframe width="960" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/4NfkT88vGF0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Like a lot of left handed hitters, if you leave a ball down and in to Tilson, he can scorch it over the wall. This doesn't happen often, but it is often enough that pitchers aren't going to aggressively pound the strike zone against him trying to knock the bat out of his hands. Thing is, the aggressiveness of these swings isn't something that I've seen a lot from Tilson when watching him in limited PA's the last couple of years. It's much more the slappy, serve-the-ball swing that you see in this clip from Baseball Instinct:

<iframe width="1280" height="720" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/1d2a__PagxA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

That's not a full Joe Thurston, but it's awfully close: Prioritizing putting the ball in play over hitting the ball with authority. Given his speed, he's likely been coached this way to some extent, but I think it will hamper his chances of getting to the big leagues if it continues.

2015 Outlook:

I feel like the organization is more bullish on Tilson that I am, which made James Ramsey expendable at the deadline last year -- even so I expect him to get nearly a full year in Springfield (don't be surprised if the power numbers jump there) in 2015. If his power doesn't jump up a bit at Hammons Field, that would be a real concern.

Overall Grade: B-