Often, when great players’ careers come to a close, they want to impact the next generation of talent at their position. It only makes sense that they want to leave a lasting impression of themselves on the game far past when they hang up the cleats.
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After signing a minor-league deal with the Chicago White Sox, former star shortstop Jimmy Rollins has a chance to do exactly that with a player that seems to be cut from the same cloth – Tim Anderson.
The White Sox have been notoriously bad at developing position players in their minor league system; nobody of note has come from their system since 2005, when they won the World Series for the first time since 1917. That could change with Anderson, especially now that Rollins has entered the fold.
Anderson is projected as a very good defensive shortstop who will steal plenty of bases. At the plate, many believe he’s a bottom-of-the-order hitter who will hit in the .270-.280 range and have a low on-base percentage based on his poor plate approach.
Someone who can help him develop a better approach and create a higher ceiling for himself is Rollins. While his OBP has slipped in recent years, Rollins’ OBP sat consistently in the .320-.340 range over the course of his career, which is respectable.
Of course, Rollins is also well-versed in the art of the steal. He has stolen 30 bases or more 10 times in his career. Anderson, someone with raw speed, could learn a thing or two about the other things that go into stealing bases.
Many believe Anderson needs one more year in the minor leagues in order to develop an approach at the plate that will suit him at the big-league level. If that’s the case, Rollins may make the major-league club out of spring training. It will be during spring training, though, that the real progress is made.
With Rollins able to work hands on with Anderson every single day, his growth could potentially exceed expectations. That likely won’t earn him a roster spot out of the spring, but it may reduce the amount of additional seasoning he needs in the minor leagues in 2016.
Based on their decade of inability to develop position players, the White Sox were smart to sign a player who could help develop talent himself. Having a player out of the same mold as Rollins certainly doesn’t hurt.
It could be a perfect marriage. The White Sox could finally hit on a key position prospect they need to pan out and Rollins could leave a legacy in the game that extends beyond his own career.
Follow Jacob Kornhauser on Twitter @KornSports for updates on America’s pastime or if you simply would like to talk baseball.