The inevitable move finally happens. With neither Jimmy Rollins nor Tyler Saladino doing, well, anything, the man for whom they've always known they were keeping the seat warm is here. So let's get right into it.
Tim Anderson is a very, very good prospect. I'm higher on him than most, as I believe he will be a star player. Setting my opinion aside, the consensus is that he will be good enough to be a starting shortstop in the major leagues.
Aggressiveness is the hallmark of his offensive game. His plate approach is to attack the first hittable fastball he sees. Like many players, he's susceptible to breaking balls away. And, like everybody else, the trick to getting him out is putting him into a pitcher's count where he's more likely to chase. While that sounds simple enough, Anderson has excellent bat speed and a swing plane that keeps the barrel in the zone so it can be hard to get him into a two strike count. A pitcher will be risking contact to do so and, if Anderson keeps it between the lines, he's an immediate danger. While he understands the strike zone reasonably well, he doesn't take many walks because he ordinarily will see at least multiple pitches in a plate appearance of that length that he can hit.
The soon-to-be 23-year-old has double-plus speed and will force infielders to rush to get the ball over to first base on any soft or medium hit groundball. If the ball reaches the outfield, he's always a threat to take the extra base, whether it be second or third. While his power is below-average and likely to remain so, his slugging will be propped up by his speedy extra base hits.
Once on the basepaths, he has the ability to steal. His technique requires refinement but he accelerates towards his top speed quickly and can swipe bases on that alone. And just like when he hits the ball, he's very aggressive in taking the extra base once the ball is in play.
While I assume Robin Ventura will be very tempted to bat him second, I don't think he's very well-suited to the top of the order, certainly at this point in his development. His OBP will always depend upon his batting average and I'd expect that for his first season and a half his batting average will hover around the .260 mark. He probably will strikeout 25%+ and have a minuscule walk rate. At his peak, he will probably threaten .300, gather lots of extra base hits, hit 10-12 dingers, steal 30 bases and reach a 7% walk rate. If he does all that in the same season, that's a darn good player. He has the makeup to be able to handle the inevitable initial struggles and become that player.
Defensively, he's currently "good enough" at shortstop and continues to steadily improve. He'll make the mental mistakes and try to do too much, just like most young players do, but his range also allows him to get to a lot of balls. His arm is solid average for the position. Eventually, he will probably be an average defensive shortstop.
To forestall questions, yes, I think he's currently capable of being appreciably better than what the White Sox had before. Yes, he is not completely major league ready. Most prospects are not when they arrive in the majors. Yes, this could hurt his long-term development. Yes, it's worth that risk. Flags fly forever.
Yes, it is appropriate to be excited.