Zack Collins Strives To Be All-Around Catcher

A lack of confidence has never been an issue for 23-year-old catcher Zack Collins.

A distinguished college career at Miami led to his selection 10th overall in the 2016 draft. Two years later, Collins had reached Double-A Birmingham, where he ranked second in the Southern League with a .382 on-base percentage.

Despite his potent lefthanded bat, Collins has heard all the talk about him not having the defensive tools to be a big league catcher.

“It’s tough because a lot people look at me as an offensive catcher,” Collins said. “When you’re looking at guy play and you think he’s an offensive catcher, your mind automatically says, ‘He can’t really catch.’ I’ve been trying to prove a lot of people wrong.”

Collins has been accomplishing that goal, and he has worked hard to improve his arm and footwork. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound backstop has thrown out a respectable 34 percent of basestealers in three pro seasons.

If anything, Collins’ bat hasn’t been as good as expected, at least in terms of batting average.

He hit .234 with Birmingham in 2018 after opening the year in a 2-for-37 slump. He led the SL with 101 walks and smashed 15 home runs in 122 games.

When spring training arrives, Collins has one specific goal. “I’m going to try to break camp (with Chicago),” he said. “I’m going to give it my all.”

Realistically, Collins is ticketed for Triple-A Charlotte in 2019, even though the White Sox traded Omar Narvaez to the Mariners and lost Kevan Smith on waivers to the Angels.

That’s because the White Sox signed James McCann to back up starting catcher Welington Castillo.

General manager Rick Hahn understands young catchers typically need more time to develop than other players, and Collins and Seby Zavala are both in the picture for the big league team in 2020.

“They are certainly candidates for the 2019 roster,” Hahn said, “but we are not going to bring Zack or Seby or any other prospect to Chicago until we feel they are fully ready for that opportunity to succeed in Chicago and ready for that next stage of development that happens at the big league level.”

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