Tanner English (OF, Throw: R, Bat: R) was originally drafted by Tampa Bay out of high school in 2011 however elected not to sign with them and played college ball at South Carolina instead. He was drafted again in 2014 by the Twins in the 11th round after three seasons with the Gamecocks. He’s known for his speed and defense and someone who has a good approach at the plate.
English spent his first season with the Twins as most draft picks do, playing rookie ball in Elizabethton. In 2015 he ascended to A ball at Cedar Rapids where he batted .265/.359/.406 and stole 37 bases before heading to the disabled list with a sprained thumb near the end of the season. His 2016 season was a whirlwind and is chronicled in detail in this piece by Seth Stohs. To summarize, a few weeks after beginning the season in high A Fort Myers English had lasik surgery and missed three weeks and during his second game back he injured his ankle and missed eight more weeks. By the time he was back playing, it was early August and he’d missed a good part of the season. Back on track in Fort Myers he was the Twins minor league player of the week in late August and then got a late season call up to AAA Rochester when Buxton was called up to the big league club and Tanner finished the season in AAA. All in all for his shortened season he batted .248/.353/.434.
English was sent to the Arizona Fall League after the 2016 season to get him some extra at bats. Living in Phoenix, I try to catch AFL games when I can. I was able to see a game where English started in CF and got a few hits. I couldn’t get his attention for an autograph after the game but oh well, I did get one from Mitch Garver that day! English also made a Buxton-like grab in the AFL championship game that season.
After his injury shortened 2016 season, he was invited to big league spring training in 2017 and then started the season in AA Chattanooga. However in May he was sent back down to Fort Myers where he remained for the rest of the season where he batted .215/.330/.376.
One thing I really like about this guy is his approach to the game. Here’s a quote from the Seth Stohs article I mentioned above:
“I would like to be that table setter guy. No matter if I got a hit, if I walk, if I get hit by a pitch. Shoot, if I hit the ball and the shortstop makes an error. I want to get on base because I know that once I am on first base, we have a good chance of scoring one run. And in a lot of games, one run goes a long way.”
His batting stats seem to have taken a step backwards in 2017 however his speed and fielding abilities have not. His fielding percentage continues to be in the high 900s and he has good range and speed. He’s in spring training once again in 2018 and we’ll have to see where he lands to start the season.