CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago White Sox's first-round selection, No. 17 overall, in the Major League Baseball amateur draft on Thursday night:
The pick: Tim Anderson, shortstop, East Central Community College (MS)
His stats: Anderson was a first-team NJCAA Division II All-American this past season when he led the nation with a .495 batting average and 62 runs scored. He was also second in steals with 41. He didn't just rely on his speed, though, hitting 10 home runs with 11 triples and 18 doubles, which were good for an .864 slugging percentage.
His background: A basketball player who gravitated toward baseball after a broken leg, Anderson blossomed quickly. He has been blossoming so quickly this season that the White Sox feared he wouldn't be available when they picked at No. 17. He hit three home runs in one game this season and then hit three triples in another. The 19-year-old, who is a finalist for the NJCAA Division II player of the year award, is a right-handed hitter and thrower.
The White Sox's take: "He was a (Division I) basketball candidate," White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann said. "He had a leg injury his senior year, was kind of talked into playing baseball and then started playing and just has elevated his game last summer. Last summer he played in the college summer league. He had a great year and then of course started to garner all the attention that he did this year. Again, just had a phenomenal season and is a very, very athletic kid that we think is skilled enough to play in the middle of the infield."
ESPN draft guru Keith Law's take: Anderson is one of the few shortstop prospects in this draft who might remain a shortstop in pro ball, with a chance for several plus tools but less polish than you'd like to see in a possible first-rounder. He has a very quick but mostly flat swing, with virtually no load and just some late hip rotation, so he can slap the ball all over but isn't well set up to drive it in any direction. He drifts a little on to his front foot as well, although if he were more rotational that wouldn't be a major obstacle to hitting for at least more doubles power. He's a well above-average runner with quick feet out at shortstop but isn't certain to stay there, as his arm is a little weak for the left side of the infield, and he'll need help with footwork and quickening his transfer.
What it means: The White Sox continued their trend of not only picking position players in the first round, but position players who have speed and overall athleticism. Anderson is an above-average runner with good range and a strong arm. He can hit to all fields and the White Sox believe his that athleticism can translate into even more power, enough so that some in the organization believe he has the chance to be a No. 3 hitter one day. The obvious route is that he develops as a leadoff type.
Who would Anderson say he compares to?
"I say Jose Reyes," he said. "I think we have the same tool package. I'm tough to beat if I'm giving it my all every play."
Anderson knows his limitations, but doesn't seem worried about them.
"I'm not a power guy, but a gap-to-gap guy with potential to have a lot of power as I get stronger," Anderson said. "I don't swing and miss a whole lot."
The White Sox have now drafted position players in each of the past three drafts with Anderson, Courtney Hawkins (2012) and Keenyn Walker (2011), and all three possess above-average athleticism.
"We feel like guys who are athletes have chances to get better," Laumann said. "He certainly is one of those types of kids. Hit .430 something in junior college as a freshman and right close to .490 this year, stolen bases 42-of-43, and he's a game-changing player when he gets on base."