TCN 2014 Cards Prospect #13: Charlie Tilson

The outfielder put his injury-wrecked 2012 behind him and logged a solid 2013 with Peoria. What is ahead? Today's article is FREE!

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
21 OF 12/2/1992 6-0 165 L L 2011 2nd

School: New Trier Township High School, Winnetka, IL

Selected 2013 stats

Peo 0.303 0.349 376 49 114 8 4 30 25 58 15 0.341 0.349 0.388 0.737
PB 0.294 0.357 34 1 10 1 0 0 5 6 0 0.361 0.385 0.382 0.767
Total 0.302   410 50 124 9 4 30 30 64 15   0.352 0.388 0.740

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (12): The community really showed a likening to Charlie Tilson. Ranked 22nd by the community last year, Tilson moves all the way up to 12th in what was a very successful first season of professional baseball in 2013.

In the 2011 draft, the Illinois native received first-round money when few had him pegged as a first-round talent. A late start in 2011 and a shoulder injury in 2012 that delayed his first full professional season for a year left most in the dark as to how much talent Tilson really possesses.

Tilson started off 2013 in an outfield that featured another of the system's fastest runners – C.J. McElroy. Tilson played his first 100 games in Peoria with a .302/.348/.387 batting line before he was promoted to Palm Beach for the final nine games of his regular season.

Although he did not show much pop, Tilson did manage to accrue a .740 OPS. It was his speed, toughness at the top of the order, and the defense provided in the outfield that were more valuable than power to the Peoria Chiefs.

That kind of skill-set is what Tilson will probably bring throughout the rest of his baseball career unless he develops more gap or over-the-fence-power. That is always possible in 2014 with him being two years from shoulder surgery as he can build it back up to full strength. At least he is better than a Punch and Judy hitter.

Tilson is still far away from the major leagues, but he has a great skill-set that the Cardinals have always desired. I expect to see him start 2014 back in Palm Beach. - DTFlush234

Brian Walton (13): Staying healthy for the entire summer may have been Tilson's biggest accomplishment to take away from 2013. The challenge of getting acclimated to a long, full season campaign for the first time was doubled by him having missed all of 2012. We already know that Tilson is the fastest outfielder and in fact, might be the fastest player in the entire system. But that can only be exploited if he can remain on the field.

Tilson is not helpless with the bat as he was sixth in the system in batting average this past summer. I do worry a bit about his high BABIP of .347, but perhaps that and his relatively low strikeout rate of 15.6 percent are at least a partial reflection of his proclivity for laying down a bunt. Unlike many young players, Tilson has a strong proficiency there.

Though it might be tempting to want to wait to see more power instead, there is nothing wrong with accepting Tilson for what he is. One who can play a strong defensive centerfield and hit enough to get by will always have a place in the bigs. In fact, the Cardinals paid a decent price to acquire such a player recently in Peter Bourjos. Of course, Tilson isn't there yet.

Time is still on his side, as Tilson will play all of 2014 as his age 21 season. The Cardinals can afford to continue to be patient, as all four outfielders above him in our annual top 40 are assigned ahead of him in the system – two at Triple-A and two at Double-A.

It is far too early, however, to worry about any potential blockage. 2014 should be the time during which Tilson steps up his game to the next level. If he can do so in the big ballparks of the Florida State League, another box can be checked on his way up. In the process, perhaps his ceiling can be elevated beyond that of a left-handed Shane Robinson.

Our 2014 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 the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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