By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Player development is vital even when moving the best of talent from the sticks to the big leagues. For the White Sox, 23-year-old shortstop Tim Anderson is the latest top young player to start that adjustment.
Now in his first full MLB season after being a first-round pick in 2013, Anderson was pressed with the weight of the six-year, $25-million deal that he signed in March. That move came after he had a solid four months in the big leagues in 2016 and White Sox brass decided that locking him up early was the wisest way to go.
With a full rebuild underway, Anderson and Triple-A infielder Yoan Moncada appear to be the faces of the organization over the next five years. But the first 30 games of the season have been difficult for Anderson, as he’s hitting .209 with two homers, six RBIs and a league-leading seven errors at shortstop in 27 games entering play Tuesday.
Anderson made his debut last June and hit .283 with nine homers and 30 RBIs in 99 games. He was impressive in the field making a lot of acrobatic plays and showing athleticism at the position that only a few have.
This year the routine groundball has been an adventure at times for Anderson, as he’s missed balls due to a sometimes flat-footed approach.
“He is a human being like anyone else,” manager Rick Renteria said. “You try to let him know that we are always with him. Everything is different as to what is going on in their lives. We try to keep what is going on with him as private as possible. This is not unique. Their willingness and desire to play well come through. He wants to excel. I think that alone will drive him to improve and get better.”
The good news is that all of Anderson’s woes can be overcome. He has a quality work ethic and a calm demeanor.
“We talked about the time we did the extension with him,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “We don’t look at Timmy as a finished product. He is still developing at this level. We even talked about it at the time of the draft. There is a rawness that repetition at every level evens out. We look at him a supremely talented player, very hard worker and an important part of our future. The fact he went through a rough stretch is not surprising and should serve him well in the long run.”
Anderson has been dropped to seventh in the lineup as of late. He had been batting first or second in the first 25 games of the season. The most current move has been done to take some pressure off of him.
“His first step, first quickness and ability to make adjustments is quite unbelievable,” infield coach Joe McEwing said of Anderson’s defense. “Tim gets in trouble at times when he stays back on the ball and gets flat-footed. He can get locked up. When you struggle you find out a lot about a person. We forget he is only four years into playing baseball at any level. He will continue to grow and learn.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.