GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ask Todd Steverson to name White Sox players who have impressed him through the early part of Spring Training, and the hitting coach mentions prospects such as Nicky Delmonico and Danny Hayes for taking advantage of the opportunity presented.But when Steverson begins to talk about Tim Anderson
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ask Todd Steverson to name White Sox players who have impressed him through the early part of Spring Training, and the hitting coach mentions prospects such as Nicky Delmonico and Danny Hayes for taking advantage of the opportunity presented.
But when Steverson begins to talk about Tim Anderson in that same circle of standouts, he gets a different sort of look on his face.
"That man can hit," said Steverson with a broad smile. "In my opinion, an up-and-coming star at some point. If not this year, it's coming, in terms of hanging that star behind his name."
Anderson, 23, burst on to the scene during the 2016 season by hitting .283 over 99 games and 410 at-bats. His offensive prowess included nine home runs, 22 doubles, six triples and 10 stolen bases.
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It also featured a 117-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio, with a .306 on-base percentage. Anderson doesn't concern himself with those numbers, nor does he pay too much attention to the positive statistics. He's dialed in trying to refine his approach at the plate.
"[I'm focused on] just really driving the ball middle away, and I feel like that when I do that I stay through the ball a lot better," Anderson said. "You know just really getting in and doing my work and locking in at every at-bat, and really using every resource that I have, even last year's at-bats, watching those.
"I'm focusing on getting the ball closer to me. Or even [if] it's just middle away, try not to chase the ball that's too far away. Just really seeing the ball closer to me. Not expanding [the zone]. More so with two strikes, just really scooting up and choking up in the box. I choke up and scoot up and really try to catch that ball before it breaks."
Steverson doesn't want to see Anderson change his aggressive approach because of the strikeout/walk disparity. The hitting coach's advice seems fairly straightforward: Take a walk if they don't throw him strikes. That comment supports the work put in by Anderson since the offseason began.
"He's dangerous," Steverson said. "I'd prefer him to get on base too, especially at the top of the lineup, via a hit or a walk. But he's dangerous. He's not just somebody you are going to flip a burger into and think you are going to get a free out because he doesn't walk."
"I go out day by day and compete and put myself in the best position to help the team win," Anderson said. "[I] try not to think too much in the box and just let it go off reactions and have fun with it."
As a top of the order hitter in 2017, Anderson will be an important presence in the White Sox lineup. As a young shortstop with his high level skill set, Anderson should be an important presence in the organization for years to come.
"If I was the White Sox, I'd sign him longterm right now," said White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier, an Anderson infield mate and mentor. "He's going to be a star."
"At the moment I'm really enjoying baseball," Anderson said. "I'm 23, so I'm just having fun with it."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.