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South Side Sox Top Prospect No. 63: Terrell Tatum

We still believe in this star-crossed speedster

2022 Arizona Fall League Headshots
Despite some stops and starts so far, Terrell Tatum remains an intriguing prospect in the White Sox system.
Kelsey Grant/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Terrell Tatum

Left Fielder
170 pounds
Age: 23
2022 SSS Top Prospect Ranking 28
2022 High Level Winston-Salem (High-A)
Age relative to high level -0.5 years
SSS rank among all left fielders in the system 3
Overall 2022 regular season stats 42 games ⚾️ 3 HR ⚾️ 21 RBI ⚾️ .267/.405/.415 ⚾️ 16-of-20 (80.0%) SB ⚾️ 31 BB ⚾️ 49 K

Terrell Tatum, whose father Terry played football for the Arkansas Razorbacks, dominated his senior season in 2017 with Houston High in Germantown, Tenn., as he hit .438 with a school-record 35 stolen bases. However, instead of playing college ball for his dad’s alma mater, Terrell opted to play for North Carolina State University. While he posted good results in his first three years with the Wolfpack, Terrell really put it all together during his senior season in 2021, as he slashed .317/.419/.543 in 53 games with 12 homers, 36 RBIs, 16-of-18 stolen bases, 33 walks (14.73%) and 68 strikeouts (30.36%). Named First Team All-ACC for his efforts, Tatum was at his best in big games — as evidenced by hitting a game-winning homer versus Vanderbilt in the College World Series. When Tatum was still available in the 16th round of the 2021 MLB draft, the White Sox couldn’t resist selecting this athletic outfielder.

After receiving his signing bonus, Tatum got off to a terrific start in the ACL, where he slashed .265/.444/.426 in 22 games with eight doubles, one homer, 10 RBIs, three stolen bases, 21 walks (23.3%), 28 strikeouts (31.1%) and an impressive 141 wRC+. While his hitting wasn’t quite as an impressive during a four-game cup of coffee with the Winston-Salem Dash to end the year (skipping Kannapolis entirely), Tatum still showed off his other skills, with four stolen bases and four walks. His combined 23.8% and 32.4% walk and strikeout rates respectively were better than his 19.0% and 37.9% in college.

The 2022 season, anticipated as a big one including a possible leap to Birmingham and beyond, ended on a sour note. After posting a .528 OBP in Kannapolis, Tatum was quickly promoted to Winston-Salem, where his peripherals normalized a bit but were still pretty good. Tatum posted a very respectable .255/.371/.418 slash line (118 wRC+) in High-A, with an increase in power offsetting the drop in his walk rate, which went from beyond elite to a more normal level of elite. Sixteen stolen bases in 20 tries rounds out Tatum’s all-around profile, and he provides capable defense at all three outfield positions. The biggest red flags for Tatum are sample size (only 46 games in affiliated ball so far) and strikeout rate (close to 30%), but if he keeps taking free passes more than 15% of the time it will paper over those flaws, especially if his ISO continues to improve.

As for that small sample size, Tatum battled injury in 2022, sitting out half of June and into July. Then, a week after being activated, Tatum was suspended for PED use (seems he didn’t get an exemption for his Adderall prescription) and was inactive for the remainder of the season. Plucked to play in Glendale in the Arizona Fall League to catch back up on some reps, Tatum only got into six games.

Tatum produces big results with his high walk rates and speed on the basepaths. He also played flawless defense at all three outfield positions this year, and has obviously shown a willingness to work the count. If not a leadoff hitter because of his high strikeout rate, Tatum could serve as a ninth-place hitter as something of a second leadoff man once the lineup turns over.

The Baseball Cube loves Tatum’s game, where he sits above-average in every way but his woeful contact rate:

Tatum’s Baseball Cube player ratings
Speed 87
Power 67
Hitting 67
Durability 58
Runs 55
RBIs 51
XBH 48
Contact 16
Team Winning Percentage .387

What a difference a year makes, from our top center fielder prospect to a guy who hasn’t even been playing there any longer. We are still bullish on Tatum, who made a splash as an under-the-radar draft pick. But we’ll definitely need to see a full season, and better contact numbers to take advantage of his wheels, to get him back into our Top 30. He remains one of the more intriguing prospects in the system, especially since he is so unlike the typical free-swinging hitters the White Sox have typically developed.

2023 South Side Sox Top 102 White Sox Prospects

63. Terrell Tatum, LF
64. Shawn Goosenberg, 2B
65. Randel Mondesí, LF
66. Emerson Talavera, RHRP
67. Declan Cronin, RHRP
68. Fraser Ellard, LHRP
69. Colby Smelley, C
70. Ethan Hammerberg, RHRP
71. Lincoln Henzman, RHRP
72. Vince Vannelle, RHRP
73. Brooks Baldwin, 3B-2B
74. James Beard, CF
75. Gabriel Rodríguez, RHSP
76. Ronny Hernandez, C
77. Troy Claunch, C
78. Brooks Gosswein, LHSP
79. Tim Elko, 1B
80. Yoelvín Silven, RHRP
81. Trey Jeans, LHRP
82. Jerry Burke, RHSP
83. Carlos Jiménez, 1B
84. Mason Adams, RHSP
85. Frankeli Arias, LHSP
86. Ernesto Jaquez, RHSP
87. Laz Rivera, 3B
88. Xavier Fernández, C
89. Álvaro Agüero, CF
90. Ben Norman, RF
91. Erick Bello, RHRP
92. Adisyn Coffey, RHRP
93. Arnold Prado, RF
94. Alsander Womack, 2B
95. Johan Domínguez, RHSP
96. Evan Skoug, C
97. Noah Owen, RHSP
98. Javier Mora, 2B
99. Will Kincanon, RHRP
100. Yohemy Nolasco, RHSP
101. Billy Seidl, RHRP
102. José Rodulfo, RHRP