Should prospect Anderson make jump to bigs?
Promising 22-year-old could make case for everyday shortstop job
During the upcoming weeks, MLB.com will take a look at a series of questions that could change the White Sox future, both immediate and long term. The first installment looks at Tim Anderson as the team's potential shortstop.
CHICAGO -- The following assessment has been recently attached to Tim Anderson, the White Sox top prospect per MLB.com: supremely talented with an extremely bright future, but not quite big league ready.
Maybe it's time to put that theory to the test and give the 22-year-old right-handed hitter a chance to win the team's everyday shortstop job, even out of Spring Training.
That position became available when the White Sox declined Alexei Ramirez's $10 million option for 2016 and exercised a $1 million buyout. Although Ramirez's tenure hasn't officially come to a close on the South Side, his desire to stay with the White Sox could be superseded by other teams' interest and monetary offers via free agency.
Tyler Saladino seems to be the top in-house option to replace Ramirez, showing excitement to return to his natural position after making an impact at third base in 2015. But Anderson clearly has become a candidate, if not necessarily the frontrunner out of Spring Training.
"Tim had a strong 2015 season in Double-A and is still only 22 years old," said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn via email to MLB.com in regard to Anderson's immediate future. "When we drafted him, it was with the expectation that he would likely be a level-to-level guy for an assortment of reasons.
"However, the good ones have a way of forcing the issue when it comes time for a callup. So we're going to keep an open mind as to his assignments next year."
Anderson, the team's top selection in the 2013 MLB Draft, hit .312 with Birmingham last season. He notched 21 doubles and 12 triples while picking up 49 stolen bases, not to mention scoring 79 runs and driving in 46.
Playing in the Southern League stands as Anderson's highest level, but numerous top young talents make the jump from that point to the Majors. Anderson could energize the team, as Carlos Correa did for the Astros; Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell did for the Cubs; Francisco Lindor did for the Indians; and Miguel Sano did for the Twins, as a few examples.
"It injects enthusiasm into the club," said White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, who scouted Anderson. "It shows the veterans that there are young guys that are going to be pushing them. It raises everybody's game and gives you that sense of now, but you are still looking at your future and thinking to yourself, 'This is going to be fun for a lot of years.'"
Defense remains a decided work in progress for Anderson, who has committed 78 Minor League errors. The focus falls upon consistently making the routine plays, which comes with time and repetition, just as gaining greater mastery of the strike zone offensively should follow.
A strong likelihood doesn't presently exist for Anderson to break camp as the White Sox starting shortstop. But he shouldn't be far away, possessing the constitution to handle a first potential real dealing with failure even at the highest of levels.
"We all feel that Tim is able to make adjustments, not only physically but mentally," Hostetler said. "We all definitely feel that he's got that 'it' factor. He's a leader."