Charlie Tilson

Born: December 2, 1992
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 185
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Drafted: 2nd round, 79th overall pick, 2011 (Cardinals)
How Acquired: Minor League Free Agent
High School: New Trier HS (Winnetka, IL)
Agents: ISE Baseball


The Cardinals drafted Tilson out of high school as a speedy, contact-oriented center fielder who profiled as a leadoff hitter.  He’s never shown much power and he’s usually hit for good averages in the minors, but not in the majors.  He’s generally made good contact in the minors but, again, not in the majors.  His speed rates well above average, but not elite, and he’s shown good range in center, where he’s played the bulk of the time in the minors.  His arm is below average and, despite the speed, he hasn’t been a great base stealer.  He’s played all three outfield positions in the majors.  Tilson has lost a lot of time to injuries, including two entire seasons.  The Pirates signed him to a minor league deal for 2020.

R:  167/286/167, 12 AB, 2 BB, 3 K, 1-1 SB
R+:  467/500/600, 15 AB, 2 2B, 1 BB, 1 K

After signing late, Tilson debuted briefly at two rookie levels.  Baseball America rated him 15th in the Cards’ system after the season.


In spring training, Tilson suffered a separated right shoulder and torn labrum.  He missed the entire season.

A:  303/349/388, 376 AB, 8 2B, 6 3B, 4 HR, 25 BB, 58 K, 15-21 SB
A+:  294/385/382, 34 AB, 1 2B, 1 3B, 5 BB, 6 K

Tilson spent most of the season in low class A.  He hit well, with a solid K rate and low walk rate, and not much power.  BA rated him 12th in the system.

A+:  308/357/414, 370 AB, 8 2B, 8 3B, 5 HR, 24 BB, 76 K, 10-17 SB
AA:  237/269/324, 139 AB, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 BB, 28 K, 2-5 SB

Tilson continued to hit well in high A, with slightly more power.  The Cardinals promoted him to AA in July.  At both levels, his K rate increased.  BA rated him ninth in the system.

AA:  295/351/388, 539 AB, 20 2B, 9 3B, 4 HR, 46 BB, 72 K, 46-65 SB

Tilson played the full season in AA and had similar numbers to the previous two years.  He did improve both his walk and K rates.  He stole a lot of bases, leading the league, but his success rate wasn’t good.  BA rated him 13th in the system and the Cardinals added him to the 40-man roster after the season.

AAA (StL):  282/345/407, 351 AB, 16 2B, 8 3B, 4 HR, 33 BB, 51 K, 15-18 SB
MLB (CWS):  500/500/500, 2 AB

St. Louis moved Tilson up to AAA and he continued hitting along the same lines, with a good average, a solid walk rate, a low K rate and very modest power.  At the trade deadline, the Cards sent him to the White Sox for Zach Duke.  The Sox brought Tilson straight to the majors, but he suffered a torn hamstring in his first game and missed the rest of the season.  BA ranked him 17th in the Sox’ system.


Tilson missed the entire season with a stress reaction in his right foot.

AAA:  244/288/289, 270 AB, 12 2B, 16 BB, 52 K, 10-12 SB
MLB:  264/331/292, 106 AB, 1 2B, 1 3B, 10 BB, 20 K, 2-5 SB

Tilson opened the season in AAA.  Chicago brought him up in May, then sent him back down after two months.  He didn’t get a September callup.  His hitting fell of a cliff in all respects, with a higher K rate, lower walk rate and almost no power.  The White Sox outrighted Tilson to AAA after the season.

AAA:  288/345/398, 236 AB, 13 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 19 BB, 43 K, 4-7 SB
MLB:  229/293/285, 144 AB, 5 2B, 1 HR, 10 BB, 38 K, 4-4 SB

Tilson started off in AAA, but got called up in May and again spent a couple of months in the middle of the season in the majors.  Otherwise, he played in AAA.  His hitting in AAA mostly returned to prior levels, but he struggled in the majors, including a high K rate.  Chicago outrighted him again after the season and he became a free agent.

Tilson likely will provide depth in AAA.  With Starling Marte gone, Jason Martin likely to be out at the beginning of the season and Jared Oliva having no experience above AA, the Pirates may need centerfield depth early in the year.  Later on, they really shouldn’t, and Tilson isn’t likely to contribute on offense in any event.

2020: Minor league salary
Signing Bonus: $1,275,000
MiLB Debut: 2011
MLB Debut: 8/2/2016
MiLB FA Eligible: 2020
MLB FA Eligible: 2023
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 11/19/2015 (since removed)
Options Remaining: 0 (USED:  2016, 2018, 2019)
MLB Service Time: 2.020
June 5, 2008: Drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2nd round, 79th overall pick; signed on August 15.
November 19, 2015: Contract purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals.
July 30, 2016: Traded by the St. Louis Cardinals to the Chicago White Sox for Zach Duke.
January 10, 2019: Designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox; outrighted to AAA on January 16.
May 6, 2019: Called up by the Chicago White Sox.
October 3, 2019: Designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox; refused assignment on October 4 and became a free agent.
January 31, 2020: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.