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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 77: Charlie Tilson

The local product just hasn’t gotten the right breaks to make an impact with the big club

Free fallin’: Tilson’s hard-luck story carries on into 2019, where he’s taken a prospect list tumble.
Tiffany Wintz (@TiffW96)/South Side Sox

Charlie Tilson
185 pounds
Bats: Right
Age: 26
SSS rank in 2018: 24
SSS rank among all center fielders in the system: 9

Tilson, a native of Wilmette and prep star with New Trier H.S., placed a verbal commitment with the Fightin’ Illini prior to the 2011 season. However, in part due to his success in the Area Code games, where he stole seven bases in three games, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the second round of that year’s MLB Draft.

His best season in the Cardinals organization may have been 2015, with AA Springfield. That year he slashed .295/.351/.388, with 20 doubles, nine triples, four homers, 32 RBIs, 46 stolen bases, 46 walks (7.74%) and 72 strikeouts (12.12%) in 539 at-bats. After another good season in 2016 with AAA Memphis, Tilson was traded to the White Sox on July 31 for southpaw reliever Zach Duke. Tilson promptly received a call-up to the White Sox two days later, pulling a third-inning single off Detroit Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez. However, just two innings later, Tilson tore his left hamstring trying to chase a fly ball and was out for the remainder of the year.

The 2017 season was not kind to Tilson. In a year he needed to establish himself, he was sidelined with myriad injuries. Finally recovered from his hamstring surgery, Tilson suffered a stress reaction in his right foot at the beginning of spring training, and was later sidelined as the result of a stress fracture in the navicular bone of his right ankle. This most important of seasons was a total loss for Tilson, as he wasn’t able to get on the field.

Strangely enough in 2018, a year when seemingly every significant prospect spent massive quantities of time on the DL, Tilson was a model of health. His results weren’t bad; they simply weren’t as impactful as he would’ve liked. For Charlotte, Tilson’s slash line was .244/.288/.289 in 270 at-bats with no homers, 25 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 16 walks (5.48%) and 52 strikeouts (17.81%). Tilson’s numbers were a bit better during his seven-week stay with the White Sox from late-May to mid-July, when he hit .264/.331/.292 with just two extra-base hits, 11 RBIs, two stolen bases, 10 walks (8.33%) and 20 strikeouts (16.67%) in 106 at-bats.

Tilson committed just two combined errors in 2018. He has decent if unexceptional range in the outfield, and his arm is fringe at best. He profiles as a fourth outfielder, but with all the outfield talent in the upper levels of the White Sox system, it’s difficult to see what kind of future Tilson will have in the organization.

For this year in Charlotte, he could be part of an outfield mix which includes any combination of Luis Basabe, Ryan Cordell, Joel Booker. Don’t be surprised to see the White Sox make a minor trade at some point, which could give Tilson an opportunity for significant playing time elsewhere.

Take a look!

Charlie Tilson hits RBI triple vs. Indians.

Charlie Tilson's first career triple gives the Good Guys the lead in the 6th!

Posted by Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, June 13, 2018

2019 South Side Sox Top 100 Prospects

77. Charlie Tilson, CF
78. Hunter Kiel, RHRP
79. Jason Bilous, RHSP
80. Nick Johnson, RHRP
81. Danny Dopico, RHRP
82. Harvin Mendoza, 1B
83. Logan Sowers, RF
84. Maiker Feliz, 3B
85. Brayan Herrera, RHSP
86. Craig Dedelow, LF
87. Wilber Pérez, RHSP
88. Kyle Kubat, LHRP
89. Johan Dominguez, RHRP
90. Mitch Roman, 2B
91. Ty Greene, C
92. Tanner Banks, LHSP
93. Jake Elliott, RHRP
94. Kevin Escorcia, LHRP
95. Luis Rodriguez, RHSP
96. Ian Dawkins, LF
97. Victor Diaz, RHRP
98. Travis Moniot, LF
99. Will Kincanon, RHRP
100. Brian Clark, LHRP

More information on South Side Top Prospects.