ESPN suggested Zack Collins could be the first hitter from this month’s amateur baseball draft to reach the big leagues.
But the first-round pick has been given a few days to decompress before he begins his professional career with the White Sox. Collins spent Saturday morning in the clubhouse, took batting practice with some of his future teammates and threw out the first pitch less than a day after he officially signed with the White Sox. The university of Miami catcher — who received a $3,380,600 signing bonus — will first report to the team’s Glendale, Ariz. facility on July 2 and eventually will start at Single-A Winston-Salem.
“We’re probably going to give him a week or two to catch his breath a little bit,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “It’s been a long season for him. We’re probably going to send him to Arizona for a little bit and get his feet under him and then to Winston.”
Collins’ college career ended earlier this week when the Hurricanes were eliminated from the College World Series. He appeared in 62 games and hit .363/.544/.668 with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs. Collins finished the season with 78 walks and 53 strikeouts.
The catcher brought his family with him to Chicago for the weekend and this week he’ll head to Wichita, KS, where he’s one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top collegiate catcher.
“After that I’ll have a couple of days off and head out,” Collins said. “It’s definitely nice (to get a few days off). I pretty much caught every game this year for Miami so it’s nice to get my legs a little rest and get fresh and head out.”
Collins wants to stick at catcher and he thinks he can. But his approach, which ESPN said is the best of the draft, and bat could have Collins to the majors quickly. Of Collins, ESPN’s Keith Law said “he can really hit.”
Collins finished his collegiate career with 177 walks versus 164 strikeouts.
“Patience is key when you’re hitting, Collins said. “Swinging at the right pitches and put the barrel on it and the ball will fly, especially with these big-league balls. Take your walks and get on base and score runs to help the team.”
Zack Burdi, the team’s supplemental first-rounder, also is said to be a fast-mover and potentially could be the first pitcher drafted to reach the majors. Hostetler said the reason Collins and Burdi are ahead of others has as much to do with their mental approach as their skillset.
“They’re advanced from the standpoint not only physically, but mentally,” Hostetler said. “That’s probably the big thing if they can play here. These guys that play here on a nightly basis, they’re wired different between the ears. They have a different mentality about them and both of those kids as well as a couple of the other ones we drafted have that presently and don’t have to develop that. To think you can put it on a 21-year-old kid to pitch here in front of 40,000 a night, it’s a little tough to think about. But I do think they’d be capable of something like that.”