Southern notes: Anderson ready to shine

Athletic shortstop 'polishing up' his all-around game with Birmingham

Tim Anderson has a .343 average through 16 games and leads the league with 11 stolen bases in as many attempts. (Ed Gardner)

By Guy Curtright / Special to MiLB.com | April 28, 2015 10:00 AM

Tim Anderson hit .364 in 10 games with Birmingham at the end of last season, making a good first impression on Barons manager Julio Vinas. The 2015 version has been even more impressive, though.

"He's really polishing up very quickly, actually faster than I would have anticipated," Vinas said of the 21-year-old shortstop. "Every week that goes by he gets better."

Anderson, who was primarily a basketball player in high school, still has a little more fine-tuning to do, but he is certainly living up to his billing as the No. 2 prospect of the Chicago White Sox and No. 75 on MLB.com's Top 100.

The speedy right-handed hitter had a .343 average through his first 16 games with the Barons this season and led the Double-A Southern League with 11 stolen bases in as many attempts.

Anderson, who has a strong arm, had also shined in the field, getting to balls that other shortstops might not and committing a modest two errors after being plagued by fielding miscues in the past.

"There's a big change in all of his game," Vinas said. "He was a raw player after starting to play very late. I'm very pleased with his progress."

Anderson was still striking out a good bit, averaging one per game, but Vinas also sees improvement there.

"His strike-zone awareness is much better, and his swing has shortened up as well," the manager said.

Anderson led the Barons with 11 RBIs, and his success at the plate was a carryover from the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .301. Not bad for someone who had baseball as an afterthought until the spring of his senior year at Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

"I played half a season as a junior, then went out as a senior after we won the state basketball title," he said. "Before that, I wasn't thinking baseball at all."

Anderson hit .495 with 41 stolen bases in his second year at East Central Community College in Mississippi, though, and now baseball was definitely thinking about the former point guard.

The White Sox made Anderson the 17th overall pick in the 2013 Draft and gave him a bonus of $2.16 million.

Anderson, who played in 11 Cactus League contests with the White Sox this spring, came into this year having played just 151 Minor League games after a broken wrist cost him nearly two months last season.

He is quickly making up for the lost time.

"Getting to Birmingham at the end of last year I think helped me going into this season," he said. "Things went well then, and I've been able to get off to a good start this year."

Some question Anderson's ability to stay at shortstop after he made 31 errors in 68 games last season with Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. He remains confident, though.

"I've worked hard and gotten better," Anderson said. "You have to go hard and not worry about mistakes. I'm a shortstop, and that's where I'm going to stay."

Playing less than 60 miles from his Tuscaloosa home, Anderson has his own cheering section at Regions Field.

"I've got family there every game," he said.

Anderson may not stay with Birmingham all season, though. He appears on the fast track to Triple-A and beyond despite his late commitment to baseball.

"I had only one college offer, and that was just because a friend recommended me to the coach for a tryout," he said. "I was lucky to get the chance, and it really worked out."

In brief

Putting up K's: Montgomery's Jaime Schultz led Southern League pitchers in strikeouts by a healthy margin with 33 over 20 2/3 innings in his first four starts, in one of which he pitched six hitless innings. The right-hander followed that up by allowing just one run over six frames in his latest start and was 2-0 with a 1.74 ERA. Schultz, 23, was a 13th-round pick by Tampa Bay in the 2013 Draft out of High Point University in North Carolina. In 35 career games, he has struck out 167 in 125 innings.

Very slow start: Jackson's D.J. Peterson went 0-for-15 in his first four games, and things haven't gotten that much better for the No. 49 prospect in MLB.com's Top 100 despite a pair of three-hit outings. The first baseman, Seattle's No. 2 prospect, was without a homer after 15 games and was batting .179 with four RBIs. Peterson, 23, was the 12th overall pick in the 2013 Draft out of the University of New Mexico. He had 33 homers and 111 RBIs last season with Class A Advanced High Desert and Jackson.

Back of track: Mississippi outfielder Matt Lipka, taken by Atlanta with the 35th overall pick in the 2010 Draft, is finally starting to put things together. Making up for lost time, the 23-year-old from Texas batted .367 with three doubles and two triples in his first 16 games. Lipka was limited to 32 games in an injury-plagued 2014 and slipped off Atlanta's prospect radar. He stole 37 bases in 2013 with Class A Advanced Lynchburg but came into this year with a .253 career batting average.

Guy Curtright is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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