The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Player Profile
(including links to full 2011 and career stats)
School: New Trier Township High School, Winnetka, IL
Selected 2011 stats
CariocaCardinal (14): The Cardinals seem to see something in the Illinois native that most major league clubs did not. I say that because despite drafting him in the late second round, the Cards gave him the bonus equivalent of a late first-round draft pick even though he was not expected to be drafted significantly earlier than he was. Tilson's 2011 professional season was not long enough to draw strong conclusions about his pro potential, but he did perform well in his brief time.
Because he is still young (he turned 19 years old in December), it is hard to project Tilson's potential. He is known as a speedy, solid defender with the potential to be a true centerfielder. The primary knock on his game is a lack of power which is one of the hardest skills to project going forward. That is the skill, however, that will probably ultimately determine whether the Cardinals were correct to pay him first-round money.
While I like to think I do a decent job of prognosticating on where Cardinals prospect will start the season, I am admittedly clueless when it comes to Tilson. I don't know whether they will push him to Quad Cities based on his high draft status and advanced defensive skills or leave him in short season Johnson City, where he would seemingly need to share time in centerfield with third-round pick C.J. McElroy.
I would not even consider Batavia to be out of the question, though placing high school players immediately in the New York-Penn League has not been the norm for the organization. Ultimately, I think he will start in extended spring training and if he performs well there, he makes his 2012 debut in Quad Cities after a couple of months.
Message board community (19): Tilson signed at the last minute, in August, so he barely saw professional plate appearances this past year, just 30, split between the Gulf Coast League and Johnson City. That might have contributed to him being ranked at 19th on the community's list.
Those few PA's made an awfully nice first impression, though, including 7-for-15 with a walk and a pair of doubles at Johnson City, with a single strikeout, despite him being just 18 at the time. An athletic lefty centerfielder, Tilson had to be lured away from a
Scouting reports on him from MLB, ESPN, and Baseball America varied a bit. ESPN saw him as a five-tool player, but the MLB report I saw reported he has below average power, and BA thought power was not his game. Whereas BA rates his arm "slightly above average," MLB described it as "fringe average."
If the better scouting reports (and the Cards' seven-figure signing bonus) are right, then we're looking at an excellent future centerfielder. It will be interesting to see if Tilson can break camp with Quad Cities next year, or if he gets extended spring work. - Gagliano
Brian Walton (13): Tilson is precisely the kind of player that the Cardinals have taken a lot of heat in recent years for not drafting. He is a very athletic individual, but as a high schooler that required a big signing bonus to keep him out of college, is the epitome of a high risk/high reward pick. I am perfectly fine with that.
I have yet to see Tilson play. Of all the Cardinals, he may be the one I am most anxious to both see in action and to listen to what the coaches will be saying about him with a full camp to evaluate him – in terms of both his skills and his make up.
It is a shame that the signing deadline for draftees was not moved up to July one year earlier or we would have a much better reading on Tilson already. If there was ever a player who would have benefited from the now-defunct fall instructional program, it would have been him.
In a system without a clear future major league centerfield candidate in front of him, I predict the Cardinals will challenge Tilson to the max - if he indicates he may be able to handle it. Assessing his maturity - both as a player and a person - is still impossible for me to do. It remains to be seen how he will react to the inevitable bumps in the road.
At this point, I am going with the Cardinals' scouting assessments in my relatively-aggressive ranking.
Our 2012 top 40 countdown continues: To see the list of top Cardinals prospects announced to date and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.
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