White Sox

Zack Collins is here: How will the White Sox deploy the 2016 first-round pick?

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AP

Zack Collins is here: How will the White Sox deploy the 2016 first-round pick?

Zack Collins wasn’t in the lineup for Tuesday night’s Crosstown game against the Cubs. He might not start Wednesday night, either.

So what’s he doing here? Well, he might end up doing a lot of things.

Collins, the White Sox top draft pick in 2016 and the No. 11 prospect in a loaded farm system, got the call to the majors Tuesday morning, another step forward in Rick Hahn’s rebuilding project. But unlike Eloy Jimenez, who was immediately installed as the everyday left fielder; unlike Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada, whose starting spots on the infield were assured the moment they came up; unlike Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech, starting pitchers who slid right into the rotation, Collins comes with a mystery: Where is he going to play?

The White Sox have made a habit of saying that when they call up these highly touted prospects, they’re here to stay and they’re here to play. But with James McCann in the midst of an All-Star campaign, the regular catcher spot is kind of spoken for. That can have a positive effect, of course, with Collins not having to deal with the pressure of handling the bulk of a pitching staff, all while he’s still dogged by questions about his defense behind the plate. But it also creates a bit of a head-scratching scenario for the newest star of the rebuild to arrive in the bigs.

Speaking of Collins being here to stay, however, manager Rick Renteria wouldn't confirm that was the case when he spoke to the media Tuesday. Hahn has always said that the team's prospects are promoted based on the team deeming them ready, not because of a need at the major league level. But Renteria seemed to lean on Castillo's injury as the reason Collins got this opportunity. It doesn't mean those two things can't coincide, but it adds an interesting element to the whole promotion.

“I think that the opportunity arose, obviously, because of the Welington situation. Obviously, the intent is to ultimately get him here at some point. Right now, it happened to open up earlier, and we’ll see how it continues to play itself out. Hopefully he has a really good experience, and we’ll make some decisions as we continue to move forward.”

One thing that's certain is that Collins will be given the opportunity to swing the bat. After he put up a .250/.374/.482 slash line with nine homers, nine doubles, 39 RBIs and 36 walks in 50 games at Triple-A Charlotte, the White Sox are ready to see if Collins' offense is as major league ready as advertised.

Collins certainly seems to think so, showing off the kind of confidence that's become a trademark among the organization's stars of the future.

"I think I fit in the every day lineup, middle of the order," Collins said Tuesday. "Behind the plate, first base, DH, doesn’t really matter. I think I can help the team win, and obviously in the box is where I excel. So, we’ll see."

The defensive questions have forced Collins into other positions, as he mentioned. He spent 31 of his 50 games at Triple-A Charlotte this season at catcher but played first base and designated hitter there, too. That should provide Renteria with an opportunity to get Collins’ much-praised bat into the lineup more often. Indeed, Renteria was already turning to his second catcher — be it McCann or Welington Castillo, depending on who was behind the plate that day — as his DH more of late, opting for that bat, whichever it might be, instead of Yonder Alonso, who came into Tuesday’s game with a woeful .180/.280/.312 slash line.

And so it’s easy to see Collins moving into the same kind of role Castillo already had: catching on days when McCann isn’t and DH’ing on days when McCann is behind the plate. Though perhaps he can even be of more use in spelling Jose Abreu at first base, on occasion. Of course, that leaves little room for Alonso, whose bout of bad numbers has come at a poor time as he’s potentially fighting for playing time. Renteria has used Alonso in just five of his starting lineups this month.

Collins' development, like that of every young player on the major league roster and playing in the minor leagues, is ongoing. We'll get to see it in progress before our eyes. The offense should show up, and the White Sox are hoping the defensive issues don't. Collins is confident things have gone smoothly at Charlotte and is ready for his next challenge.

"I feel good," he said. "Everything is kind of falling into place. All the work I’ve put in through the last couple of years in the minor leagues. I feel good behind the plate, also. Everything is going smoothly.

"I feel like this year I made some big strides (defensively). Also, last year was the biggest one for me. Behind the plate, being with an older group at Triple-A was definitely helpful. There’s always room to improve. Now with McCann I can learn a lot from him."

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2020 MLB Draft: Reid Detmers is best player who could fall to White Sox

2020 MLB Draft: Reid Detmers is best player who could fall to White Sox

When the White Sox are on the clock next Wednesday in the first round of the MLB Draft, remember the name Reid Detmers.

If the former Louisville Cardinals left-hander with one of the coolest curveballs you will ever see is still available, the White Sox might have a steal on their hands.

“In my mind, (Detmers) is the best player who could fall to No. 11,” MLB.com draft expert Jim Callis said on the White Sox Talk Podcast. “I’m not saying he will. I think he’s the guy who could. That would be the best player you could probably hope for at 11 would be Reid Detmers.”

At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Detmers isn’t going to wow you with his velocity. His fastball tops off in the low-90s.

What he’s known for is a sweeping curveball that takes a wild scenic route to a whole other area code once it leaves Detmer’s hands, before somehow finding the catcher’s mitt on the other end of the rainbow.

“He has one of the best curveballs in the draft,” said Callis, which to me, is an understatement. Just watch this:


And this:


RELATED: Top 20 MLB Draft prospects: Who will White Sox pick at No. 11?

Right-handed pitcher Max Meyer, who is expected to be chosen ahead of Detmers next Wednesday, was recently asked by Callis on MLB Network if he could take one pitch from last year’s Team USA squad, whose would he take? Meyer chose Detmers’ curveball. Who wouldn’t? That thing is nasty.

During his 2019 season, abbreviated due to the coronavirus pandemic, Detmers dominated in his four starts, finishing 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA, 48 strikeouts and six walks in 22 innings. In 2019, he set Louisville’s single-season strikeout record with 167 strikeouts in 113.1 innings.

Detmers has a chance to not only be one of the best pitchers in the draft, Callis believes he could be the most major league ready, as well.

“To me, there’s a lot of good college pitching in this draft. That’s the strength of this draft. Reid Detmers is probably the first college starting pitcher in the big leagues in this draft,” Callis said.

But before you can pencil him into the starting rotation on the South Side in 2022, he’ll first have to be on the board when it’s the White Sox turn to pick. If he is, will the White Sox, with new scouting director Mike Shirley, choose him? We’ll learn next week.

In the meantime, check out the podcast with Callis. We go over several other options for the White Sox. There are some intriguing possibilities at multiple positions, including a former star shortstop from Mt. Carmel whose idol is Tim Anderson.

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Who should the Sox take in the newly formatted draft?

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Who should the Sox take in the newly formatted draft?

Chuck Garfien is joined by Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline and MLB.com to discuss the upcoming MLB draft. With the draft only being five rounds this year, Callis discusses the differences between this year and a normal draft and who the Sox should take.

(2:45) - Differences between this draft and previous ones

(8:20) - Who should the White Sox take with the 11th overall pick?

(13:25) - Where will former Jackie Robinson West Little Leaguer Ed Howard land in the draft?

(20:00) - Should the White Sox take a catcher?

(27:08) - The player in the draft who the White Sox are rumored to like

Listen here or below.

White Sox Talk Podcast

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