3 HR 12 RBI
13.7 BB% 38.2 K%
.285 wOBA 77 wRC+ .656 OPS
-4 Defensive Runs Saved
Tell Me A Story: While not on the same level of anticipation for the likes of Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez, Zack Collins’ minor league career was watched very closely this season with the expectation he would be up and making a difference with the big club sooner rather than later. The waiting game ended on the 19th of June when Beef Welington went on the IL with some type of brain damage and Collins’ contract was purchased by the White Sox, officially putting him on the 40-man roster.
The expectation among sportswriters, bloggers, and fans alike was that Collins would be getting ample playing time at catcher, first base and designated hitter. What would the point of him being up at the major league level if not to see what he can do? In Collins’ first full game against the Rangers on the 21st of June, he showed just a taste of what he could do by smoking an Ariel Jurado fastball just right of dead center in Arlington (estimated at 445, no cheapie) for his first ever major league hit and home run.
Unfortunately that would be the only highlight of his first stint in the majors, as he played less than half the time before he was sent back down to Charlotte on July 14th. During that three-week span that he was up, Collins only started in seven of a possible 21 games, losing playing time and at-bats to White Sox legends like AJ Reed and Yonder Alonso. Why did the White Sox call up Collins and start his service time clock to park him on the bench 66% of the time? I honestly have no idea, and I have a sneaking suspicion neither does Rick Hahn or Renteria. Hahn would later claim that they saw something wrong with his approach at the plate and banished him back to AAA to work on it.
Credit where it’s due, after being sent down to Charlotte to work on that nebulous issue Collins began to absolutely rake at the plate. He slashed .281/.403(!)/.951 the rest of his time down there until he was inevitably called back up during roster expansion this past September. After being called back up, Collins got consistent playing time the rest of the month, both behind the plate and at 1B. He started out slowly after his return, but caught his stride the last 12 games of the season, hitting .293 with an .882 OPS and just under half of his hits being the extra base variety.
Behind the plate, Collins seemed to struggle to manage the game effectively. Runners stole bases on him at will, only being caught 11% of the time. He was at least able to keep the ball in front of him, however, only accounting for one passed ball which makes him look like a young Pudge Rodriguez compared to Welington Castillo. Granted he only started 6 games at catcher after being recalled, which again is kind of weird considering the Sox would certainly want to see what he has defensively if he’s going to be in the mix for catching in The Future™.
Contract: Team control next season, arbitration eligible 2023. Base salary is $550,000
Welcome Back or Boot In The Ass: Unless there’s a team out there who tosses an offer Rick Hahn’s way that he absolutely cannot ignore, Collins is coming back to the Sox in 2020 and will most likely be with the big club the entire season.
The main question concerning Collins’ playing time will be answered here shortly in December at the winter meetings. If Hahn is able to secure a player like Yasmani Grandal to play with the White Sox in 2020, Zack Collins’ positional future is gonna be in flux. In that scenario, Collins would most likely be splitting time between first base and designated hitter, with occasional starts behind the dish at catcher.
Even if the Sox don’t land Grandal, Hahn will most likely be shopping for a backup catcher as long term profile for Collins doesn’t show much more than occasionally spelling James McCann full time behind the plate. In a perfect world, the Sox sign Grandal and create a rotating conga line between 1B, DH and C for Grandal, Collins and Jose Abreu (who is almost certainly a lock to return.)
If Collins is able to progress at even half the rate Yoan Moncada or Eloy Jimenez has, the Sox will have themselves the kind of player who can get on base at an excellent clip (I don’t expect him to have a +.400 OPB again, but even .370 isn’t out of the question) and occasionally hit for power from the left side of the plate. Guys like that don’t grow on trees, and with some advancement in skill it will be worth the Sox time to try and find a spot in the lineup for him, wherever that may end up being.