Anderson confident he's future White Sox shortstop
Despite error total at Class A, club's No. 3 prospect feels it's his strongest position
CHICAGO -- In Derek Jeter's first full season of professional baseball 20 years ago at Greensboro, N.C., he committed 56 errors playing shortstop while helping turn 57 double plays.
That gaudy total of miscues certainly didn't hamper Jeter in becoming one of the best overall shortstops in Major League Baseball history.
Tim Anderson, the White Sox No. 3 prospect, according to MLB.com, smiles upon hearing that story and is completely aware of Jeter's opening shortstop effort. But a reinforcement of confidence wasn't exactly needed by the team's top pick and 17th overall in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Yes, Anderson committed 19 errors at shortstop in just 63 games for Class A Kannapolis. But that short season of work didn't stop Anderson from believing shortstop remains his best position. The White Sox stand in agreement with the 20-year-old.
"There was going to be growing pains," said Minor League field coordinator Kirk Champion. "You throw him in the South Atlantic [League], with the speed of the game, and then just working on some things mechanically and defensively, and things like that."
"It don't bother me," Anderson told MLB.com of his elevated errors total during an instructional league interview. "It's just stuff that I was working on. It changed a lot of stuff compared to junior college. Other than that, it doesn't bother me."
A discussion involving an Anderson position change seems to be quite a bit premature considering he hasn't even reached 300 at-bats as a Minor Leaguer. He felt improvement at the position throughout his time with the Intimidators, not to mention from instructional league work at Camelback Ranch.
Anderson discussed changes made in his pre-step before the pitch is delivered and his throwing motion as tangible causes for encouragement.
"Basically, it's how I get set," Anderson said of the pre-step alteration. "I was going left foot, right foot, and now I'm going right foot, left foot. Just jump straight up and down. I would usually be leaning to the left or leaning to the right. Now, I'm just on both sides on my feet.
"My throws were tailing a little bit. So I wasn't getting length on my arm. Now, I'm getting length and it's getting better."
This error total borne of inexperience becomes a small negative compared to the athleticism Anderson flashes whenever he's on the field. Even in a low-key October instructional league contest, there's a burst of energy coming from Anderson turning a line shot toward the corner into a stand-up triple.
Over his 267 at-bats for Kannapolis, Anderson batted .277 with one homer and 21 RBIs. He knocked out five triples and swiped 24 bases in 28 attempts. Anderson did strike out 78 times, a total once again coming from inexperience but one that caught Anderson's attention. Yet, Anderson felt better offensively in instructs, specifically feeling more confident as a two-strike hitter.
The first-round selection already has developed a couple thousand Twitter followers through his @TimAnderson7 account. There's inherent pressure coming from being a first-round pick, but Anderson also understands the responsibilities of being responsible where communicating with the fan base through social media is concerned.
"Everybody is watching me," Anderson said. "All eyes are on me when I do something. I have to be really careful. Everybody is excited.
"Some guys do expect a lot out of you, but it doesn't bother me. It's the same game. We are all playing the same game."
When asked where Anderson sees himself playing that same game in 2014 and much further down the line, he quickly and definitively states, "I'm a shortstop." He could end up some day at second base or even as a center fielder, but no change is being considered.
"He has made a lot of strides," Champion said of Anderson's instructional league work. "He swings the bat and he's a heady guy. He just feels like that he's getting it.
"I don't know he's going to play himself off that position. We are counting on him to be that guy. We will continue to work it. He played second base three or four times. He's getting exposed to that part of it too. But he's getting his at-bats and bulk of innings at shortstop."