BASEBALL — Charlie Tilson added one more highlight to a reel that’s nearly full.
The New Trier senior center fielder was selected Tuesday by the St. Louis Cardinals with the 79th pick in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
“I have a great relationship with their area scout, and I had a good feeling about them,” Tilson said. “I couldn’t ask to be part of a better group of people.”
The Illinois Gatorade Player of the Year has until Aug. 15 to hash out a contract with the Cardinals. Tilson also has a scholarship waiting for him at Illinois, which recently enjoyed one of its best seasons in years. The Illini participated in the NCAA Tournament for first time since 2000.
“We will see where it goes,” he said.
Although he was a target for every opposing team, Tilson still managed to put together one of the best seasons in the state. He batted better than .400, scored 42 runs, walked 30 times and stole 29 bases.
“As far as the season went, I couldn’t be happier,” said Tilson, whose team lost to Leyden 9-8 in the sectional final to finish 25-11. “Unfortunately, we had one bad inning. But that’s baseball.”
Tilson climbed the ranks after starring as a sophomore on the state championship team. He earned a national reputation after playing at the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif., last summer.
“He has good actions,” New Trier coach Mike Napoleon said. “That means he gets a good jump on balls, knows how to handle the bat and has a good throwing motion. Kids either have it or they don’t. We saw that early on from him.”
Tilson plans to take his time making his decision. If he chooses Illinois, he will reunite with New Trier teammate Brian Kost.
“Going into the season, I was a little nervous with how it was going to go,” Tilson said. “Everybody wants to be the best they can be, but sometimes certain attention brings up problems. But my teammates stood behind me through the good times and bad. I couldn’t ask for a better group.”