ZACK COLLINS, CATCHER
|Born: February 6, 1995
Drafted: 1st Round, 10th Overall, 2016 (White Sox)
How Acquired: Waiver claim (from Blue Jays)
College: University of Miami
Agent: MVP Sports Group
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|The White Sox drafted Collins 10th overall as a power-hitting, offense-oriented catcher. He’s extremely patient at the plate and puts up huge numbers of walks and strikeouts. Flaws in his approach, though, have kept him from fully getting to his power. He’s not at all well regarded defensively, as he struggles to receive and frame pitches. He has a good arm, but his mechanics have led to slightly subpar results against base stealers. The Pirates acquired him via waiver claim.
In his debut, Collins mainly played at high A and did well there without dominating. He had extremely high walk and K rates. Baseball America ranked him as the Sox’ fourth best prospect after the season.
The White Sox sent Collins back to high A for most of the season. He hit for good but not great power, again with huge walk and K rates. The fact that he batted only .223 was obviously a warning sign. BA rated him sixth in the system.
In a full season at AA, Collins hit for some power, but not what you’d want to justify a .234 average. His triple-digit walk total was something you don’t see much in the minors, but his K rate was higher than ever. BA dropped his ranking to 12th in the system.
In AAA, Collins seemingly had a breakout season, putting up big power numbers for the first time and hitting for a good average. He cut down on his K rate slightly from the previous year. The Sox called him up in June and again in September and he continued to draw walks, but struck out in nearly half his at-bats. He started getting time at first, making 20 starts there in AAA and one in the majors. BA dropped his ranking again, to 15th.
During the pandemic season, Collins was stuck as the third catcher behind Yasmani Grandal and James McCann, so he didn’t play much. BA dropped his ranking in the system further to 29th.
Collins spent most of the season in the majors as Grandal’s backup. He hit for only modest power, with the same very high walk and K rates.
At the beginning of the season, Chicago traded Collins to Toronto for former Pirates’ first-round pick Reese McGuire. With the Jays, Collins split his time between AAA and the majors. He split his time about evenly between catcher and first base in the minors, and catcher and DH in the majors. Collins didn’t hit for the kind of power at either level that would justify the low average and astronomical K rates. He also didn’t walk much in the majors. Toronto designated him for assignment in early September and the Pirates claimed him. Their goal seems to have been to try Collins at first in the minimal time left in the season. Fittingly, he went 1-for-25.
The Pirates appear to regard Collins as a first baseman rather than a catcher, even though he hasn’t played first much. That makes his acquisition one of their many puzzling moves; moving a poor defensive catcher who’s struggling to hit may or may not address one problem, but it makes the other problem worse. Of course, the Pirates under Ben Cherington don’t seem to regard offense at first base as important. Collins is out of options, so the team will have a couple weeks to get a look at him and then will need to make a decision. Carrying him on the 40-man roster the whole off-season would be a pointless move, but a large percentage of their decisions under Cherington have been obviously pointless from the start.
|2023: Major league minimum
|Signing Bonus: $3,380,600
MiLB Debut: 2016
MLB Debut: 6/19/2019
MiLB FA Eligible: 2022
MLB FA Eligible: 2027
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 6/18/2019
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2019, 2021, 2022)
MLB Service Time: 2.093
|June 8, 2013: Drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 27th round, 825th overall pick.
June 9, 2016: Drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 1st round, 10th overall pick; signed on June 24.
June 18, 2019: Contract purchased by the Chicago White Sox.
April 3, 2022: Traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Toronto Blue Jays for Reese McGuire.
September 5, 2022: Designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays.
September 7, 2022: Claimed off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays by the Pittsburgh Pirates.