As we continue our tour of the top prospects across the Chicago baseball landscape this afternoon, we look at Chicago White Sox #6 prospect, Zack Collins.
Before Tim Anderson excelled in the big leagues, before Robin Ventura was fired, and before Moncada, Kopech, Giolito, and Lopez came over, the White Sox’s lone ray of hope for the future was Zack Collins. Although he’s now taken a backseat to Anderson and the prospects, Collins will be pivotal in the catcher role for the White Sox.
Collins was drafted 10th overall in the first round of the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft out of the University of Miami (FL). At Miami, Collins absolutely tore up opponents in 2016, with a .363 BA and a .544 OBP. Yes, you read that right. Collins reached base on 54% of his at-bats! Granted, he’ll never be able to match those numbers against professinal competition, but it’s easy to see why the Sox desired the 21 year-old.
Although Collins was the consensus choice for best collegiate catcher, as evidenced through his multiple awards, there are doubts over his catching ability. Additionally, Collins is very slow on the basepaths, as MLB Pipeline gives him a 30 (far below average) grade for speed. However, the issue is minisucle compared to the Sox’s dilemma of where to play Collins. For now, reports indicate the White Sox are planning on keeping him behind the plate, an idea that Collins condones. When asked about himself catching at SoxFest, Collins had this to say:
“It’s one of the biggest things I have to prove…I see no reason why I shouldn’t stay back there.” (via @FutureSox on Twitter)
Fielding issues aside, Collins is a monster at the plate. Although his numbers in the minors (Arizona and Winston-Salem) this year were way behind his college outputs, his OBP was still incredibly impressive, at .396. This is mainly in part to his 33 walks in 131 ABs, since his BA was just adequate at .258.
MLB Pipeline delves into the specifics in their Collins evaluation from 2016:
He’s strong, owns a quick bat and has good loft in his stroke. He’s more than just a masher, however, as he’s patient and controls the strike zone extremely well, which should help him hit for average and record high on-base percentages.
An added bonus is that Collins posesses decent power. In the minors Collins hit a home run in about 6.6% of his ABs, and around 4.5% of the time in the minors. A realistic middle would probably be about 5%, which would translate to 28 home runs if Collins gets 575ish ABs. The White Sox could definitely use a near-30 home run hitter to bolster the middle of their future lineup.
Fresh out of college, it will be some time before Collins plays for Chicago. Fine-tuning takes time, so we shouldn’t see Collins playing on the south side until 2018. When that day comes, Sox fans will be eager to start what they hope will be the first successful catcher era since A.J. Pierzynski.