Outfielder Charlie Tilson missed the final six games of the Springfield Cardinals season due to injury. With the club out of playoff contention, it was not surprising the 21-year-old was not pushed, though he was not placed on the Double-A club’s disabled list.
As it turns out, he suffered a foot fracture and the necessary rehab has continued over the ensuing four weeks and into the fall. That led the organization to pull Tilson from his upcoming opportunity to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. The former second-round draft pick is expected to be 100 percent healed for spring training, according to an organization official.
The Cardinals have named Tilson’s former Peoria Chiefs teammate C.J. McElroy to replace him in the Peoria Javelinas outfield. Taken one round after Tilson in the 2011 draft and playing the same primary position, centerfield, McElroy has fallen behind Tilson in advancement up through the ranks of the Cardinals system.
Having yet to reach the A-Advanced level of play, McElroy is relatively young experience-wise for the Arizona Fall League. Yet the 21-year-old remains a good prospect, named 29th in The Cardinal Nation’s recently-published September top 40 rankings (member article).
After an injury-plagued 2013, McElroy was returned to Class-A Peoria for a second summer and remained there for the entire 2014 season, becoming a Midwest League all-star and being named his club’s Most Valuable Player.
A natural right-handed batter, McElroy been working on switch-hitting for the past year, which would start him closer to first base and enable him to better take advantage of his considerable speed.
Among all Cardinals minor leaguers in 2014, the Texan ranked first with 41 stolen bases (in 59 attempts, 69.5 percent success rate) and second in runs scored with 74. McElroy’s line over 490 at-bats this season was .267/.342/.298/.640.
McElroy was already among 38 Cardinals farmhands participating in the organization’s instructional league camp in Jupiter, Florida. In about a week, he will join seven other Cardinals set to head west to compete in the AFL. They are pitchers Tyrell Jenkins, Sam Tuivailala, Mitch Harris and Chris Perry, catcher Cody Stanley and infielders Jacob Wilson and Breyvic Valera.
After an all-star season in the Florida State League with Palm Beach, Tilson was promoted to Springfield in late July. In 31 Double-A games, TCN’s seventh-ranked Cardinals prospect was still getting acclimated, batting .237 after posting a .308 mark at A-Advanced.
Across both stops, Tilson’s 2014 line was .289/.333/.389/.722 in 509 at-bats over 120 games. The left-handed batter tied for the Cardinals system lead with nine triples and finished third in the organization with 73 runs scored this season. Tilson did not have a great year in steals, going just 12-for-22.
The Cardinal Nation members should stay tuned for my in-person reports from the Cardinals fall instructional league camp and the Arizona Fall League, starting this week.
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