- Full name Charles Everett Tilson
- Born 12/02/1992 in Wilmette, IL
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 190 / Bats: L / Throws: L
- School New Trier
- Debut 08/02/2016
Drafted in the 2nd round (79th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011 (signed for $1,275,000).
View Draft ReportThough Tilson was the best player on New Trier's 2009 Illinois 4-A championship team as a sophomore, he didn't burst onto the prospect scene until the Area Code Games the following summer. Tilson led all players with seven stolen bases in three games, hit the wood-bat event's lone home run and finished fourth in the SPARQ athletic testing. He hasn't quite shown the same tools this spring, however, and fits more in the second or third round. The Area Code homer was an aberration, as the 6-foot, 175-pounder has average bat speed and a line-drive swing. Power isn't his game, as he's a lefty hitter who fits at the top of the lineup. His game is to make contact and get on base. His speed rates a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and he'll be more dangerous once he improves his jumps. He runs down balls in center field and shows a slightly above-average arm. His instincts and makeup help enhance his tools. Area scouts who have more history with Tilson don't rate him as highly as scouting directors and crosscheckers who saw him at the Area Code Games. An Illinois recruit, he draws comparisons to former Illini speedster Kyle Hudson, a standout athlete who was a fourth-round pick of the Orioles in 2008. Hudson is quicker, but Tilson is a better hitter and has more polish at the same stage of their careers. He's a top student and could be a tough sign.
Organization Prospect Rankings
After forgoing a scholarship at Illinois, Tilson slowly climbed through the Cardinals system. He battled significant injuries, with a labrum tear costing him the 2012 season and a fractured foot costing him a chance to play in the 2014 Arizona Fall League. When healthy, he has been a solid performer in the upper minors, and the White Sox acquired him when they traded Zach Duke to the Cardinals at the 2016 deadline. Tilson immediately went to the big leagues and collected a hit off Anibal Sanchez in his debut before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury that same day. He has a short swing to go with outstanding bat control, and he has struck out in just 14 percent of the time in the minors. Tilson can also impact the game with his speed. He's a plus runner whose speed plays in center field, and he's become a more efficient baserunner as he's progressed through the minors. Tilson's lack of power and injury history hold him back, but he could have a long career as a contact-oriented center fielder or fourth outfielder.
Finally, Tilson stayed healthy for a full season. He missed his first full season, 2012, with a shoulder injury, and a foot fracture in 2014 kept him out of the Arizona Fall League. He played a full season at Double-A Springfield in 2015 and led the Texas League in hits (159), triples (9), stolen bases (46) and caught stealing (19). Tilson has not developed much power and likely will wind up with 30 power on the 20-80 scale. He sticks to his all-fields approach and has a knack for making contact that may have more value in today's high-strikeout context. He's going to have to draw plenty of walks and steal bases more efficiently to provide enough offense to be a regular. Tilson's plus speed is his best tool, which suits him in center field, where his range helped him lead the TL in total chances. His below-average arm may make it tougher for him to stick as a fourth outfielder. He may hit his way to being an everyday regular but the reserve role makes more sense. He should jump a level to Triple-A Memphis in 2016, and after being added to the 40-man roster, he's poised to make his big league debut in a crowded Cardinals outfield in 2016.
The reward Tilson was about to receive for a standout 2014 season was a chance to show his growth in the Arizona Fall League. An injury canceled those plans. Tilson was unable to play in the AFL because of a fracture in his foot'the most recent injury to rob him of development time. The Chicagoland speedster grabbed attention at the 2010 Area Code Games with his defense and an unexpected flash of power. The Cardinals landed him as a second-rounder in 2011 with a $1.275 million bonus, but a shoulder injury robbed him of his first pro season. The Cardinals rushed Tilson to Double-A Springfield in 2014 due to trades and injuries above him, and while his production faltered, he wasn't overmatched at the level. A highenergy outfielder, Tilson has the speed to course-correct in the field. He has a solid approach at the plate that uses the whole field. If the power doesn't come, his legs should lift his slugging percentage by finding doubles. He may have to adopt a less aggressive approach at the plate to stick at the top of a lineup. The Area Code fireworks left scouts wondering if this was his peak or a peek into his potential. Viewed by the Cardinals as a raw talent, Tilson has advanced rapidly when healthy, and his strides put him back on track for Double-A for 2015.
Back from a season-stealing shoulder that wiped out his 2012, the lefthanded-hitting Tilson surged at low Class A Peoria in 2013, batting .303/.349/.388 in 100 games after a slow start. During extended spring training 2012, Tilson attempted to make a diving catch and tore the labrum in his right (non-throwing) shoulder. Surgery followed. What was supposed to be his first full pro season was spent recovering. In 2013, Tilson played every day, showed durability and shook any rust off his swing. The Chicagoland high school star first caught teams' attention with a sublime showing at the 2010 Area Code Games. The Cardinals signed him for $1.275 million after making him a second-round pick in 2011. The question that followed him into the pros was whether the Area Code jubilee was his peak or a peek. Given health, Tilson proved it was the latter. He improved his plate discipline and was able to use his speed to raise his average. He runs from home to first base in 4.1 seconds, and using that plus speed to conjure extra bases will be necessary unless power develops beyond 20 extra-base hits in 410 at-bats he showed in 2013. Tilson will receive priority playing time in center field, where's he's a plus defender, with a likely assignment to high Class A Palm Beach in 2014.
What should have been Tilson's first full pro season ended before it began. During a scrimmage in extended spring training, he separated his right (non-throwing) shoulder and tore his labrum while attempting a diving catch. Surgery followed and the summer was a loss. He returned in time for instructional league, where he impressed coaches with solid production while regaining his strength. The Chicagoland prep star caught the Cardinals' eye and improved his draft stock with his performance at the 2010 Area Code Games, and the Cardinals signed him the next summer for $1,275,000 as a second-rounder. Tilson is a contact hitter with a line-drive swing and the potential to hit for a solid average. Speed is where his extra-base hits will come from, as he rates as a 65 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale but has below-average raw power. His injury puts him behind fellow 2011 high school center fielder C.J. McElroy, but Tilson will get priority playing time in center because St. Louis believes his speed, arm and instincts fit the position. A jump to a full-season club at some point in 2013 is likely, though probably not to start the season because he has just 27 pro at-bats.
The Chicago-area prep star caught the Cardinals' eye and radically enhanced his draft status with a star turn at the 2010 Area Code Games. In three games, he stole seven bases and hit the lone homer in the wood-bat tournament. He also finished fourth overall in the SPARQ testing designed to gauge power, speed, agility and endurance. Though Tilson was a top student with a commitment to Illinois, St. Louis drafted him in the second round last June and signed him at the Aug. 15 deadline for $1.275 million. Scouts who saw Tilson outside of the Area Code Games view him as a bundle of unsharpened tools in need of tutelage. He's a lefty contact hitter with potential for a line-drive swing. He has the legs, rather than power, to produce extra bases. His speed rates a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and his baserunning will get better with experience. Though he's one of several center fielders they drafted in 2011, the Cardinals will give Tilson priority access to the position because his range, instincts and arm all are better than average for the position. He may begin 2012 in extended spring training, though it's not out of the question that he could force his way to low Class A at some point during the year.
Best Tools List
- Rated Fastest Baserunner in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013