The White Sox have had some interesting catchers in their history. One of the greatest of all time, of course, was Carlton Fisk who sat behind the plate for a long time, becoming a star on the South Side. Now in the Hall of Fame, he was one of the highlights among the Pale Hose for years. Of course, during the years when the White Sox were winning a World Series championship, there was the colorful and interesting A. J. Pierzynski, too.
In this year of the rebuild, the tendency has been to look outward. The rumor for the last couple of seasons was that the Sox did not have a decent farm system and there were no real talents to be had there. That, of course, like so many things is untrue. In fact, down in the minor leagues of the White Sox is a hot young prospect that stands a better than decent chance of getting a start in the big leagues in 2017, or 2018.
His name is Zack Collins, and here’s what we know about him.
First, he is from the University of Miami and was drafted in 2013 in the 27th round by the Cincy Reds. He did not sign a contract, but went off to college and played 61 games for the Hurricanes his first year. He hit .298/.427/.556 with 11 homers and 54 RBI. During his college years he was also named ACC Freshman of the Year and Baseball America’s Freshman of the Year.
Second, he was drafted by the White Sox in the college draft in 2016. He got his start with the Arizona Rookie League Sox, but did so well he was soon sent off to the Winston-Salem Dash Single-A team in the Carolina League. He finished the 2016 season with a .244 batting average and notched 6 homers and 18 RBI. After the season ended, he was promising enough that the Sox sent him to play Fall Ball in the Arizona Fall League.
Third, although he gave an interview with the Chicago Tribune where he said that after playing in the fall league, the fact was he had matured and improved enough to become the White Sox top prospect.
As of January 17, 2017, an article by Fox Sports named Collins the fourth overall top catching prospect in all of major league baseball farm systems.
Collins is hard not to notice. The young man stands 6’3″ and is routinely scouted as one of the best hitters in the minor leagues. He is known for having a lot of power at the plate and in working the count on pitchers, which is always key. Right now, management for the Sox is not so worried about his abilities to hit, but in developing him as a solid catcher, and the reports after the 2016 fall season show he has matured in that area. However, it should be noted that Collins also has shown ability to play first base, which could also be developed and move him up to the majors even faster.
What will happen next? Well, more than likely Collins will continue to play in the minors at the start of the 2017 season. However, if he continues to show development, talent and maturity as the season progresses, it may not be too far fetched to see him in a White Sox uniform and behind the plate in 2017.
Photo from MiLB.com and the Winston-Salem Dash.