Collins Makes Sense For Sox
CHICAGO—In his first year as the White Sox's scouting director, Nick Hostetler knew the player he wanted with the 10th overall pick for the past two months.
Zack Collins was there when Chicago's turn came, and the White Sox quickly scooped up the Miami catcher.
"Zack was the guy," Hostetler said. "He was No. 1 on our list since the first week of April. We kind of highlighted him, circled him and I ran everybody in under the sun to see him. We were praetty happy, and to (general manager) Rick (Hahn's) credit, he struck out three times when Rick saw him, so Rick trusts the scouts."
Collins makes a lot of sense for Chicago. The White Sox are platooning catchers Dioner Navarro and Alex Avila this season, and both veterans are on one-year contracts.
There has been some speculation that Collins is going to wind up at designated hitter or first base, but the White Sox drafted him to catch.
"No question in my mind he is going to be a catcher," Hostetler said. "We evaluated him as a catcher. We feel he is going to be a middle-of-the-order, impact bat. There is no question to anyone in that room that he can catch."
Collins has tightened up his defensive play throughout his junior season with the Hurricanes.
"There are always improvements to be made," Collins said. "I made huge improvements throughout this past year, even the past six months."
As for his bat, many think it is already major-league ready. Heading into the super regionals, the lefthanded hitter had a .358/.534/.631 line with nine doubles, 13 home runs and 53 RBI in 57 games for third-ranked Miami.
"I've actually had some people tell me my swing kind of looks like Jim Thome," the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Collins said.
Collins has 69 walks and only 48 strikeouts.
"Great plate discipline," Hostetler said. "He understands the strike zone as well as anybody. Big, big raw power. This is something we've been looking for a long time in our organization and we think we found it today."
Collins was wearing a White Sox cap after being drafted, but said his girlfriend purchased hats from every major league team just to be safe.
"You know, there's been a lot of interest throughout the season with a lot of teams," Collins said. "I don't know, I didn't have a for-sure feeling (the Sox) were going to pick me or they weren't going to pick me. But I'm very excited to hopefully win a national championship coming up soon and get my professional baseball career going."
• With the No. 26 pick, which was compensation from the Giants for signing Jeff Samardzija, Chicago selected Louisville righthanded closer Zack Burdi, who is from nearby Downers Grove, Ill. "It's an absolute dream come true, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a Chicago kid, but it is," Burdi said. "Being a White Sox fan growing up, going to games, seeing the (Paul) Konerkos and Frank Thomases, it was something I looked forward to and something I always wanted to go to and be a part of."
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This year's catcher class is deep with a mix of offensive and defensive backstops.
• In the second round, the White Sox drafted Oklahoma righthander Alec Hansen with the No. 49 overall pick. "Big-time power fastball," Hostetler said. "It is 97 to 100 (mph). It's four plus pitches when he's on. There are some mechanical things we feel we can fix."