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Charlie Tilson Makes Debut For St. Louis Cardinals' Rookie Club

Charlie Tilson, the St. Louis Cardinals' second-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft—who signed recently for nearly as much as Kolten Wong, the team's first-rounder—made his professional debut in the Gulf Coast League Saturday, going 0-3 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored. This doesn't mean much—the GCL is half a baseball league and half extended spring training—but it's our first chance to get over-excited about the speedy center fielder, and you can rest assured that we in the Hyperventilating Prospect Geek Fraternity will do just that.

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If you must follow Tilson's every move, some tips for watching Tilson and the GCL in general. 

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1. Don't get excited if he does really well or really badly. Maintain your cool at all times. The Cardinals have six games left, meaning you'll have a seven-game sample at your luckiest. This is the same scenario in which Zack Cox went 6-for-15 in an I-waited-too-long-to-sign four-game stint with the GCL Cards, only Tilson is a high schooler and not inexplicably the Best College Hitter In The Draft. 

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2. The GCL is a pitcher's league with a ton of variance among players. The league OPS this year is .682, with a slugging percentage of .354, and pitchers earn a ton of strikeouts against inexperienced wood-bat hitters. At the same time, the difference between the best hitting team—the .300/.378/.471 Yankees—and the worst—the .223/.304/.292 Twins—is gaping. As far as talent distribution goes this is closer to high school ball than the majors. 

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The Cardinals, for their part, have two hitters with full-season OPSes over .800—Dominican Summer League product Luis Perez, and VSL refugee Ildemaro Vargas—and three 2011 draftees who are cratering—third-rounder C.J. McElroy (.194/.261/.226), fourth-rounder Kenneth Peoples-Walls (.243/.305/.257), and 17th-rounder and all-name-team member Dutch Deol (.094/.222/.113.) I wouldn't exactly want to be Dutch Deol this year, but none of those full-season lines say much of anything about these players' futures. Tilson's will say even less.

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3. Tilson's power is in question, so that's one thing to watch for. The GCL Cardinals' home run leader is 22-year-old Michael Knox, who has four, so it's safe to say that the prospects don't do a lot of mashing here. But if you're going to watch for one thing over the next week, see if TIlson hits a ball or two out of the park. We know he can run; we know he hits line drives; it's an increase in home run power that'll make up that huge bonus. 

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