Back in the offseason, I wrote up the White Sox' top prospect list here, and had Tim Anderson as my #3 prospect in their organization. Once we got to ranking our top 200 prospects overall, a funny thing happened with Anderson and my list as a whole:
Hmmmm...... That's not the order I had them back in October.
The trade of Matt Davidson in between the time I released the team rankings and the consensus rankings explains away how Davidson ended up ahead of Anderson. What did change though, as I went through the process of preparing my top 200 overall, was the notable drop of Courtney Hawkins behind Anderson overall. I liked some of the additional reports that were released in that time frame, and concerns surrounding Hawkins' ability to avoid strikeouts had not changed.
The White Sox sent Anderson to High-A to start the 2014 campaign. While they had given the same assignment to Hawkins the year before, Anderson was drafted out of a community college rather than fresh out of high school, and was expected to at least hold his own at the level. By all accounts, that held more than true, as Anderson was hitting .297/.323/.472 with six home runs, ten stolen bases, 48 runs scored, and 31 runs batted in when he suffered a fractured wrist. He missed nearly two months, but after a week-long rehab stint in Arizona, was promoted to AA rather than back to High-A. He appeared in just 10 games there before the season ended, hitting .364/.364/.500 with a home run in ten games, and will head to the Arizona Fall League this year to help make up for some of the lost development time.
Anderson was drafted as a shortstop in 2013, and is continuing to play the position in the minors at the moment. However, it is expected long-term that Anderson will have to move elsewhere, with second base sounding the most likely option at the moment. While his fantasy value is tied to his position, his bat will still play elsewhere on the diamond regardless.
He is considered an extremely raw hitter, which is to be expected given his late turn to the game. That said, the performance this year helps point out some of the potential that is visible in his tools. He is expected to be an above-average hitter overall, capable of providing good batting averages and decent power. He's extremely unlikely to turn into a 20+ home run hitter, but does have some power and should provide 8-10 home runs along with a bunch of doubles.
One of the keys to his fantasy value will lie with his speed, which is considered elite and capable of providing 30+ stolen bases a year on a consistent basis.The speed should help him out in terms of runs as well, and could potentially lead him to a role in the outfield rather than the infield.
There are some concerns though from this year's performance, namely how his aggressive approach at the plate could end up hurting his value. He posted a walk rate this year of 2.0% across both levels, and while that does seem a bit out of line with his potential, he will need to increase that somewhat as he continues to move up. He doesn't need to be an on-base machine, but if major league pitchers think that they don't have to throw him a strike consistently to get him out, it's going to cost him.
I ranked Anderson as my #42 overall fantasy prospect in August, and the potential upside for Anderson is that he ends up as a .285 hitter with 10 to 12 home runs, 35-40 stolen bases, 80 runs scored, and 65 runs batted in at the second base position. That trends toward being a top 5 second baseman, as he'll provide value across all five categories, which is a bit rare for a high stolen base provider like Anderson.
Realistically, Anderson probably won't debut in the major leagues until late 2015 at the soonest, and with Marcus Semien and Carlos Sanchez available to hold down the position until he is ready, there's no reason to rush him. I can see him being the Opening Day starter for the 2016 season. His performance this year has helped to solidify a bit what his floor can be in the majors, without really changing the potential ceiling.