The Pirates announced minor league deals with outfielder Charlie Tilson and catcher Andrew Susac on Friday. Both players will be in Major League camp this spring, as will lefties Derek Holland and Robbie Erlin, whose previously reported minor league deals were confirmed by the team.
Tilson, 27, was once a well-regarded prospect with the Cardinals and White Sox. Known primarily for his speed, he was flipped from St. Louis to Chicago several years ago in a deal that sent Zach Duke to the Cardinals. The ChiSox hoped they’d found a top-of-the-order hitter who could provide good defense and generally serve as a nuisance to other teams on the basepaths, but Tilson unfortunately tore his hamstring in his debut game with the Sox back in 2016. Other lower half injuries, namely a stress reaction in his right foot, limited him substantially the following year.
Tilson has now appeared in 96 big league games but has never gotten back on track after that rash of injuries in 2016-17. He’s a career .246/.310/.290 hitter in the Majors, although last year’s Triple-A showing (.288/.345/.398) at least created a bit of optimism that perhaps he could still tap into some of that previous potential. Tilson swiped only eight bases between Triple-A and the Majors in 2019, however, so it appears his days as a 40-steal threat might be in the past now that those lower-half injuries have taken their toll.
Susac, meanwhile, was not only a well-regarded prospect but was at various points considered to be among the game’s top 100 farmhands during his days with the Giants. His strong work early in his career in Triple-A has never really carried over to the Majors, though, and the now-29-year-old backstop (30 in March) has a career .221/.283/.373 slash in 300 big league plate appearances. He’s a career .247/.351/.431 hitter in Triple-A — numbers that are somewhat skewed by an awful 2017 season with Milwaukee’s top affiliate.