Zack Collins has only played two full seasons at the professional level, but it’s a bit troubling that his time between A and AA ball have not been marked by significant improvement at the plate.
It’s fair to say that Collins was expected to rise quickly through the minors, as would be true with any college prospect drafted #10 overall. The pop and patience are there, as shown by 40 home runs and .379 OBP, but his .232 average is probably not what the White Sox were hoping for when they drafted a catcher known for his offensive skills.
You don’t have to look far to see other college prospects from recent drafts rising through their respective minor league systems quickly. Nick Senzel is now considered a top ten prospect and could even make the Opening Day roster after being picked in the same draft as Collins. Alex Bregman made his MLB debut the year after he was drafted and is now one of the best players in baseball. Dansby Swanson hasn’t risen to Bregman’s all star level, but still made it to the Majors within a year. Andrew Benintendi did the same, and won a World Series with the Red Sox last year. Ian Happ had to wait two years, but is now an important player on one of the best teams in the National League.
Look back at college prospects taken early in drafts and you’ll mostly see two types of players. The guys that ended up being successful made it to the highest level pretty quickly and the guys that didn’t rise through the organization within a few years didn’t make it at all. That’s why Collins not even being considered for the Opening Day roster is troubling.
2019 will be an important year for many White Sox prospects, but for Collins it could be a make-or-break season. Drafting college players is usually considered low-risk compared to high school prospects, but another benefit is knowing what you have after only a few seasons. If Collins doesn’t break out in 2019 and make his way to the big league club, the White Sox may come to realize that they swung and missed on their 2016 first round pick.