Charlie Tilson, CF
New Trier HS, Illinois
Weight: 175 lbs
SUMMATION: Physically projectable left-handed hitting centerfielder with plus bat and speed gives him chance to become everyday ML CF. Good, wiry body and loose athletic actions. Bat gives him potential to play everyday; speed and defense gives him chance to be good left-handed ML bench candidate.
Though 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.
Tilson is a five-tool player, a rarity for a cold-weather high school kid (he’s from Illinois), and has a chance to go in the top 50 picks. He’s a plus-runner who can play centerfield and has surprising power for his size, although the swing plane doesn’t have tremendous loft in it.
He has excellent hand speed and showed at last summer’s Area Code Games, which was his national coming-out party, that he can adjust his swing as needed, going short for contact but staying back to drive a ball when he got a pitch he could pull. He has the speed and instincts to play center with a plus arm.
What he doesn’t have is a lot of experience against good-quality pitching, since he plays in Illinois, and hasn’t hit for any power this spring. That may hold him out of the first round, but the raw tools are there and cold-weather kids can get going late in the spring. He has the ceiling of an above-average everyday center fielder with a chance to be an All-Star.
Scouting Report per MLB.com:
The Chicago-area high school product was known in the region for a while, but really helped his stock with a tremendous performance at the Area Code Games last summer.
Tilson isn’t the biggest guy in the world, reminding some of a Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury, both of whom had more of a track record as college performers. He has been a two-sport athlete in high school, and that athleticism does play well on the diamond. He has some quick-twitch actions and has a good first step down the line. Overall, his speed grades out as above average — he’s not a true burner — but he could be a solid leadoff hitter or No. 2 type in the future, thanks to his contact and on-base skills.
Tilson has a smooth swing and is quick to the ball, tending to shoot the ball in the gap with an opposite-field approach. He has below-average power and does need to gain some strength.
He plays center field right now and could be an average defender there in the future. The accuracy of his fringe-average arm should allow him to play center or left field capably. His size and strength might deter some, as could a strong commitment to college, but any Gardner or Ellsbury fans out there might give Tilson a try.
What do you see yourself doing in ten years?
I am more interested in baseball. The football keeps me competitive and gives me an edge so I don’t become soft on the baseball field. My dream would be to be playing for the Chicago White Sox one day.