Anderson a key part of White Sox rebuild

Shortstop hit .283 with nine HRs in 99-game rookie season

Anderson a key part of White Sox rebuild

CHICAGO -- As the White Sox traded away premium talent like Chris Sale and Adam Eaton this offseason, names such as Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito and other top prospects became symbols for hope and a foundation for the future.

Tim Anderson was once one of those youngsters. Now the 23-year-old shortstop is firmly entrenched in Chicago's present and future after a successful 99-game rookie season.

Anderson hit .283/.306/.432 with nine home runs and 10 steals after taking over for veteran Jimmy Rollins in June. His on-base percentage wasn't ideal for a top-of-the-order hitter and there were too many strikeouts (117 in 431 plate appearances), but manager Rick Renteria dismisses those numbers because of what Anderson showed during his first taste of the Majors.

"When he got in the box, the guy that's on the hill over there feels this guy's a threat," Renteria said. "So when you're in the dugout and you're watching when your guys get in the box and you know the guy on the hill is going, 'I've got to pitch to this guy well,' [it makes you confident].

"He's a guy that we expect will continue to trust his ability to go out there and do what he does. Trying to change him in some capacity, no. We just want him to continue to chip away and improve."

There was a time it was thought Anderson would do that on a contending club, but now the rebuild is on.

"Guys like that, you hate to see leave," Anderson said of Sale and Eaton. "But at the end of the day, it's a business and we're just trying to put ourselves in position to be a good ballclub. I'm very excited about it and looking forward to working with these guys as we come up and grow together."

White Sox have good young pieces

Now with all eyes toward the future, Anderson likely will be one of the young, established veterans by the time guys such as the 21-year-old Moncada -- his potential double-play partner -- and 20-year-old right-hander Michael Kopech reach the South Side.

Anderson -- a quiet, unassuming Alabama native -- will never be an outspoken leader in the vein of Sale or third baseman Todd Frazier. But he can someday fill the lead-by-example role for younger guys just reaching the Majors.

"He goes out, prepares, performs, speaks to his teammates through his actions," Renteria said. "I think he has that type of personality that can evolve to that particular level. He's a very bright kid with very good baseball acumen."

That already has shown in Anderson's short professional career. Drafted No. 17 overall in 2013 as a shortstop but thought of more as an athlete, he at one point was viewed as a candidate to shift to center field. That talk has quieted; Anderson finished 10th in Defensive Runs Saved and 11th in Ultimate Zone Rating among shortstops who played at least 800 innings at the position last year.

"He's an excellent defender, and I think that was one of the question marks about him when he first came up," Renteria said. "But he's a great defender and we hope that he maintains the ability to defend and run the bases. He's an excellent baseball player."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.