Why Tilson is the Pick
The Reds are another team that has drafted incredibly well over the past few years. Last year alone, the big-league, division-winning club was aided by farm-grown Joey Votto (who went on to win the N.L. MVP), 2009 first-round pick Mike Leake and 2005 first-rounder Jay Bruce. They also got minor contributions from Homer Bailey, Travis Wood and Drew Stubbs.
This year, picking late in the first round for the first time in quite some time, the Reds are going to have a wealth of options at their disposal. This 2011 class is as a deep as any, and is capable of producing potential everyday, All-Star caliber players as late as the 27th pick, where they will be selecting.
Baseball America recently did a cover story on an under-the-radar player Charlie Tilson, a potential five-tool outfielder from Illinois, reviewing his appearance at the Super-60 Showcase, an event comprised of the best talent from the Midwest.
Tilson's greatest tool is his above-average speed. He could be one of the fastest runners in the draft, not just the high-school crop. He has at least 40-50 steal talent, and like another pick on this list (Shawon Dunston Jr.), is excellent at using his speed to turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples.
His bat is solid but not spectacular. Not yet, anyway. He has incredibly quick wrists and shows a lightning-quick aggressive swing that one day could produce above-average power.
He flashed what he may one day be capable of at the 2010 Area Code Games. Tilson, all 6'0" and 175 pounds of him, put on one heck of a show, clubbing the only home run of the entire weekend and stealing seven bases in only three games.
For now, he's more of a slap-hitter with the "get on base" mentality, which works great, because Tilson is a terror once he's on base.
He further impressed at the Super 60 showcase this spring and has put together a fantastic campaign for New Trier High School, hitting .500 with 22 runs and 19 steals in the same number of attempts. And he's accomplished all that in only 16 games. All stats are courtesy of the Chicago Tribune and as are current as April 28th.
In the field, Tilson benefits from his speed. It allows him to get to balls most center fielders can't, and allows him to hide the fact that his arm strength isn't that amazing. Still, Tilson looks like a long-term center fielder.
There's a ton of projection in Tilson, and any team willing to take a chance on that could be very handsomely rewarded down the road.
The Reds had success with a guy very similar to Tilson, Jay Bruce, and while Bruce hasn't exploded into the superstar they and Baseball America predicted, he has had a very solid start to his big-league career.
Thanks to his speed and his above-average defensive ability, I'd say Andrew McCutchen, another talented outfielder who was a high school pick, would be a solid comp for Tilson.
Tilson has probably a little more speed, although McCutchen's bat was more polished when he was coming out. Tilson will probably follow a path similar to McCutchen's, spending anywhere from three to five seasons in the minors before arriving in the big-leagues.
Once there, he could be a similar type of impact player near the top of the linuep.