Friday’s announcement that the White Sox are bringing Tim Anderson to the major leagues creates mixed feelings of excitement and fear.
But it’s the fear part I can’t seem to get past right now.
Anderson’ ascension to the majors is the most important move the White Sox will make this season. Not necessarily for the present of the franchise — despite this being a win-now move — but for the future. In a system barren of any positional talent, a common predicament dating back to the Bill Clinton administration, Anderson stands alone. He’s the only guy within a mile of being a major league contributor, let alone a star.
But he’s not important because he’s the only one. He’s a legit prospect, ranked in the Top 50 on most prospect lists — No. 19 on BP’s Top 101. He’s the most highly regarded White Sox positional prospect since Gordon Beckham.
Maybe that’s the reason for the fear. By now, we all know the list of White Sox prospect flame-outs, but Beckham was the most recent and most high profile. It seems just yesterday he was getting Chase Utley comps while putting together a .270/.347/.460 line during his debut half-season in 2009.
But comparing Anderson to Beckham, or any prospect of White Sox past, is unfair. Not all prospects are created equal. Beckham had 344 minor league plate appearances total before the White Sox called him up, and only 28 at Triple-A. Anderson has been in the system since 2013 and has 1,471 plate appearances to his name. Not all prospects are created equal.
It may be hyperbolic to say Anderson failing would set the organization back exponentially, but right now it really feels apt. The White Sox don’t spend on free agents in a significant way, and aside from the recently drafted Zack Collins, nobody else moves the needle, so being able to reverse their trend of failure with positional prospects is essential if the White Sox want to become a consistently great organization. You know, one that doesn’t have to plug holes with veteran castoffs.
Anderson is the first significant positional prospect to come to the majors in seven years. He’s the most important position player in the organization, and him being able to lock down a position for the next several years — whether it’s shortstop or center field — would go a long way toward reversing that trend.
I didn’t think it’d come this soon. I thought he’d spend the entire season at Triple-A Charlotte, but 256 plate appearances will have to be enough. The White Sox have a hole to fill and they believe Anderson is ready. They’ve been wrong before. They can’t be wrong again.
Simply put, Anderson has to pay off. The White Sox cannot afford for him to not.
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