Tilson playing waiting game
WILMETTE — For Charlie Tilson, the ball is in the St. Louis Cardinals' court.
Drafted in the second round of the MLB amateur draft June 7, the Illinois recruit hours later gave the Cardinals a monetary figure for which he would be willing to sign.
Tilson still is waiting for a response.
"We have been in contact a little bit with the scouting director, but we haven't gotten into conversations on money," the center fielder said this week.
The hang-up, apparently, is a demand by the 2011 Gatorade Illinois Baseball Player of the Year for a signing bonus considerably larger than what the commissioner's office has recommended for Tilson's slot in the draft.
The Winnetka New Trier graduate was drafted 79th overall. The News-Gazette has learned the recommended slot figure for that pick is between $457,000 and $458,000.
Tilson declined to reveal how much he's seeking.
"We put a lot of thought into it, and I think we're pretty confident in it," the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder said of his financial demand. "I gave (Cardinals area scout Kris Gross) a figure, and I told him it was firm. And that's as far as our conversations have gone."
Tilson said he was braced for a lengthy wait to resolve the matter, one way or the other. The deadline to sign is Aug. 15.
"We realize that if guys are going to sign for over-slot no matter what, you have to wait until Aug. 14 to sign," Tilson said. "There's a chance we may try to come to a deal before the deadline — just so I kind of have a better idea of where I'm going to end up earlier — but right now it's just conversations with the area scout about how the summer's going."
Those chats include Tilson's experiences with the Homestead Ranchers, a summer collegiate team based in Waukegan. He originally planned to play for the Wilmette Waves, an 18-and-under summer team. However, with the encouragement of the Cardinals and Illinois, he joined the Ranchers.
"It's definitely a step up," said Tilson, who hit .406 with 28 stolen this spring for New Trier. "All the pitchers are Division I guys to Division III guys, so it's a good opportunity."
Illini coach Dan Hartleb said he's tried to give Tilson and his family some space as they await movement in negotiations with the Cardinals.
"I hope he ends up at Illinois, but to talk somebody out of or into that type of money, that's a family decision," Hartleb said. "I think they've come up (with a figure) with what they'd need for Charlie to skip school. It's a family that understands what's going on, and they'll make a good decision.
"With that being said, I think it's going to be a little bit of a (lengthy) process."
Tilson insisted he is not getting apprehensive about what could be a down-to-the-wire situation with the Cardinals.
"Right now I'm just trying to keep a level head," he said. "In a perfect world, I'd know tomorrow what I was (going to be) doing, but that's not the way things necessarily work. I certainly understand it. That's the way the draft goes.
"I'm kind of comfortable with it only because I know that I've got two good options. You're constantly reminded of that when I talk to not only the people from the Cardinals organization but when I talk to the Illinois coaches.
"It's certainly a good position to be in, so I can't complain."
Argo still unsigned. Hartleb continues to await word on whether senior-to-be Willie Argo will be back next season. The Illini center fielder was drafted in the 43rd round by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Argo, who did not respond to several phone messages from The News-Gazette, currently is playing for a summer collegiate league team in Madison, Wis.
"There's nothing new," Hartleb said of Argo's status. "We'll see what happens in the next month."
Through Thursday, Argo was hitting .323 with two homers and 10 RBI in 10 games with the Mallards.
"I think he's waiting to see what happens, and the (Pirates are) seeing how he plays," Hartleb said.