The St. Louis Cardinals announced on Monday that Charlie Tilson had been optioned to the Memphis Redbirds. Let the speed and excitement commence.
When I wrote my preseason roster prediction for Memphis, I immediately assigned Charlie Tilson as the starting center fielder so don’t color me surprised by the transaction news from the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to see Tilson’s performance this spring as it promises great things for Memphis.
Before digging into his spring performance, let me steal a little from my earlier post. While Tilson has not yet in his career made any starts at the AAA-level, he holds a .980 fielding percentage at center, a .935 percentage at right, and a .923 percentage at left.
These numbers indicated to me that Tilson is the natural starter for Memphis in Center. Add to this his speed and he is custom-made to patrol the middle outfield.
Looking offensively at his sub-AAA career, Tilson’s minor league slash line over five season reports as .296/.346/.389. Noting these as sub-AAA is accurate but it is also important to note that he spent only one season at the AA-level.
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This is not meant to indicate that he is better-suited for AA, but- noting his five season trajectory and his performance this spring- meant to indicate that Memphis is the appropriate next step.
Looking at his performance this spring, this 23 year old, 2011 second-round pick appeared seven at-bats scoring five runs with only one hit. His spring slash line finished at .143/.250/.393. These at-bats were witnessed in eight games.
While the stats aren’t that impressive, Tilson struck out only one time and the rest of his at-bat, while not amassing hits, were bat-to-ball contact resulting in outs.
The impressive thing that Tilson flashed this spring was his comic-book-flash-like-speed. In the eight games in which Tilson appeared this spring, he stole five bases in six attempts. While this stat is certainly impressive, one must temper excitement about this in large part thanks to this being spring.
What is not reflected in this stat is the impressive jumps and speed exhibited in these steals which words in an article cannot capture.
In his fielding appearances this spring, Tilson appeared in the outfield in seven games across twenty-four innings. In these innings he was presented with four chances to record an out and successfully recorded four put-outs for a 1.000 fielding percentage.
2016 will be a great year for Tilson, the number eight prospect on Steven McNeill’s prospect list, as he begins to master the bat at a higher level and as he impresses the crowds in Memphis with his speed on the pads and in the grass. As Steven notes in this piece, Tilson has the ability to really impress should he harness his stealing abilities. Memphis makes the most sense in appropriateness to enhance this skill.
Now that we have reached the mid-point in spring, the excitement of player additions to the Memphis roster will continue to grow. I look forward to having the ability to report to you these names and how I see them fitting into the Memphis atmosphere. Stay tuned for more, and thank goodness the Cardinals return to action again today (Wednesday)!