KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tim Anderson had not only a front-row seat to the Yoan Moncada experience, but a unique perspective. A year ago, he was the red-hot No. 1 prospect in the White Sox farm system — not quite at Moncada’s level, but still the guy who represented hope that the Sox could get out of this mess by growing their own.
“A lot of new faces coming in. The roles change quickly,” Anderson said. “I’m excited for him, because he’s definitely going to be a great player. I’m looking forward to playing in the middle with him for a long time.”
That’s the plan, anyhow. And while Moncada will be the focal point of the Sox rebuild as the No. 1 prospect in baseball, what happens with struggling Anderson might be just as tell-tale in the Sox’ quest to rebuild by stocking their farm system with prospects and letting them grow into major-leaguers.
Acquiring highly rated prospects is one part. The challenge for the Sox now is player development. And there’s work to be done with the 24-year-old shortstop, who is hitting .243 with a .266 on-base percentage this season after hitting .283 with a .306 on-base percentage in 99 games last year. Anderson has never hit below .277 at any level since he was drafted in the first round (17th overall) in 2013.
“I can’t say this year hasn’t been tough,” Anderson said. “But I’m growing and maturing and learning msyelf and figuring out who I am.
“I guess it’s just one of those years. I can’t really put a [finger] on it. “But I just got to continue to play and keep having fun with it. My great years haven’t come. But they’re coming. It’s going to be exciting. I’ve got to keep working.”
Anderson’s difficult season comes just after he signed a six-year, $25 million contract in March — an investment that magnifies the importance of the Sox getting Anderson right. Interesting timing — but more than likely, he’s going through growing pains even the best prospects endure.
“He came up last year and he hit really well,” Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson said. “Once teams see what you did — there is video in this game — pitchers make adjustments and try to play on what they think your weakness is. It’s up to us as hitters to make an adjustment back.”
Steverson’s job is to give Anderson the best chance to make that adjustment and help himself.
“Mechanics play a part, but to be able to execute you have to have a brain, which tells you what you want to do,” Steverson said.
Anderson also acknowledged the murder of a close friend, Branden Moss, in Alabama in May still is impacting his outlook and his season. Anderson also has made 21 errors at shortstop.
“It really bothers me deep down inside. I still think about it all the time,” he said. “It’s one of those things I’m still trying to get over. I’ve just got to keep going and keep praying about it.”
A fresh start in 2018 could be the cure for Anderson. But he’s too young to think that far ahead. Working at it is part of the process.
“I’ve got to still do things that help me get better so I can be great next year,” Anderson said. “I’m still working and I’ve got to keep having fun with it. I’m still young. I still have a lot of great years head of myself. And that’s something I know. Nothing to be worried about.”
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