White Sox

One plate appearance was all it took for Zack Collins to show White Sox fans what he's all about

One plate appearance was all it took for Zack Collins to show White Sox fans what he's all about

Though only four runs separated the White Sox from the Cubs in the ninth inning Wednesday night, it felt like a blowout when Zack Collins made his first trip to the plate as a big leaguer.

The No. 11 prospect in the organization was called up to the majors ahead of Tuesday's game, though he didn't see any action then, and he wasn't in the starting lineup for Wednesday night's Crosstown contest on the North Side, either.

But manager Rick Renteria called on Collins to pinch hit — an appearance perhaps only made possible by National League rules in a National League park — with two outs to go in the top of the ninth inning.

"It was huge for me. It was a dream come true," he said after the game. "Just stepping up to the plate, looking to the outfield, seeing the crowd. We were down four in the top of the ninth and obviously trying to get on base, trying to keep the train moving. I thought I put a good at-bat together and it was a lot of fun.

"Rizzo said a couple things to me, said congratulations and stuff like that. That was pretty cool. Other than that I was kind of in a daze out there looking around. Like you said, soaking it all in, enjoying the moment."

It only took one plate appearance for Collins to show White Sox fans what he's all about. He worked the count full and took a walk. Get used to that.

Collins made quite a habit of that kind of thing in the minor leagues, posting huge on-base percentages over the last few years. In 122 games at Double-A Birmingham last season, he had a .382 on-base percentage, and he wasn't far off that mark in his 50 games at Triple-A Charlotte this season, reaching base at a .374 clip. Last season, he walked 101 times for a 19 percent walk rate. This season, he walked 36 times for a 17.5 percent walk rate.

His walk rate in the majors is a cool 100 percent at the moment. The 1.000 on-base percentage looks even better.

"That's pretty good, right?" he joked.

Patience at the plate might end up being Collins' most valuable attribute at the major league level. His offensive skills have been lauded since the White Sox took him with a top-10 pick in the 2016 draft, and he hit 49 homers in his four minor league seasons, also showing off that power by winning the Home Run Derby at the Southern League All-Star Game last year. His defensive skills have remained a question, though, and while he'll most likely serve as the White Sox No. 2 catcher behind James McCann, who's in the midst of an All-Star campaign, he can also be utilized at designated hitter and perhaps even first base.

But it's that good eye that the White Sox are hoping to see from the get-go. They saw it Wednesday night, and it's something Collins said has always been a part of his game.

"I've never really worked on that, so I would guess it kind of came naturally. It's a good thing to have," he said. "Guys at this level have some pretty good stuff. I'm looking to be aggressive but also swing at strikes."

You only get one chance to make a first impression, they say. Collins' first impression was pretty emblematic of the kind of hitter he hopes to be in the bigs.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: A.J. Reed: 'It's good to be someplace where you feel wanted'

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: A.J. Reed: 'It's good to be someplace where you feel wanted'

Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey speak with new White Sox slugger A.J. Reed.

Could he be the left power DH the White Sox have been searching for? (1:20)

Reed talks about why he feels relieved and reborn getting this opportunity with the White Sox (8:05), what's prevented him from being the major league player he wants to be (9:15), why the Astros gave up on him (14:00) and more.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

 

White Sox Talk Podcast

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Reynaldo Lopez offers hope for improved second half with quality start in Oakland

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez offers hope for improved second half with quality start in Oakland

Reynaldo Lopez had a first half to forget, but the White Sox pitcher had a strong first start in the second half.

Lopez struck out seven while giving up only an unearned run in six innings of work in Oakland. He settled for a no-decision after the bullpen couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead for him.

The right-hander entered the game with the highest ERA among qualified starters. Six innings later with no earned runs and Lopez has passed that title on to Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez.

Only one other time this season has Lopez had a start without allowing an earned run. That was April 28 against Detroit when Lopez struck out 14 batters in six innings.

He threw 62 of his 93 pitches for strikes and got 17 swinging strikes. The swinging strikes were below his season average whiff rate, which was 22.6 percent entering Sunday, but he threw far more strikes than his season average.

Lopez, 25, got fans excited with a decent 2018 season that featured a 3.91 ERA. However, his strikeout rate is up (8.05 K/9 in 2019 vs. 7.2 in 2018) and walk rate is down (3.46 BB/9 in 2019 vs. 3.58 in 2018) compared to last year. He’s just getting hit much harder this season.

It was just one start, but Lopez offered some hope for him being a different pitcher in the second half, as he said after his previous start on July 4.

Meanwhile, the White Sox lost 3-2 to complete a series sweep for the A’s. Eloy Jimenez hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh, but the A’s answered with a Ramon Laureano solo shot off Evan Marshall in the bottom half. Then, the A’s opened the ninth with a pair of blooped singles and won the game on a throwing error by Jose Rondon.

The White Sox were also swept in Oakland last year and have lost eight straight in Oakland Coliseum.

 

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