CINCINNATI -- Third-base prospect Cam Collier was thought by many to be a possible top 5 or top 10 selection going into the 2022 Draft on Sunday night. As it turned out, Collier waited a bit until landing at No. 18 to the Reds.
No problem, he felt.
“Once it was done. I was just happy,” Collier said Monday. “I was ecstatic, because I knew the team that picked me was the best fit for me. I was the player they wanted, so it was just a blessing for them. Really, the waiting game, I didn’t put much of my mind into it because the team that wanted me was going to pick me, and it ended up being the Reds.”
Besides, someone had already bought Collier a new Reds cap.
“I got it knowing it was a possibility,” he said while wearing it on a Zoom media session.
At the age of only 17, Collier already has enjoyed the fruits that can come from betting on oneself. After his state-title-winning sophomore season at Mount Paran Christian School in Kennesaw, Ga., in 2021, he graduated early, reclassified and enrolled at Chipola Junior College in Florida to be ready for this year’s Draft.
“We haven’t seen someone of his age do that since Bryce Harper did,” Reds director of amateur scouting Joe Katuska said.
“I made the decision during the COVID year  where we got all that time to just work out,” Collier explained. “There weren’t any games played because everything was canceled. I really just made that decision back there, and now we’re here and it has paid off, so it’s a blessing.”
The 18th pick in this year’s Draft carries a slot bonus value of $3.66 million.
A left-handed hitter, Collier batted .333/.419/.537 with 12 doubles, eight homers and 47 RBIs in 52 games for Chipola. He also learned about himself off the field.
“I learned that I’m a lot more mature than I thought I was,” Collier said. “Down at junior college, I wouldn’t say I was away from my parents a lot, but they weren’t there all the time. I’m going from being a sophomore in high school to being in junior college going to classes by myself, filling out work, I’ve got to look online to find stuff. I’ve got to find a way to get to the field.”
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Collier also played nine games for the Cotuit Kettleers in the prestigious Cape Cod League, where he became the second-youngest player in league history.
“In junior college and in Cape Cod, there were some older guys with more experience. That made them better players,” Collier said. “I got used to them being more polished and having better stuff. It was something I had to learn.”
Collier’s high school also produced former Reds outfielder Taylor Trammell, who now plays for the Mariners. They met when Collier was a freshman.
“We were doing conditioning for high school, and [Trammell] came in and took me under his wing and was a great mentor to me,” Collier said. “He told me about his process and what he went through. And [he said] how he felt about me and how he felt I could be the same way as him. ... [And he] was a mentor to me and helped me develop in my career and just showed me what I needed to do.”
Collier also had the benefit of a father who was a former Major Leaguer. Lou Collier was a utility player who had an eight-year career (1997-2004) with the Pirates, Brewers, Expos, Red Sox and Phillies.
Cam Collier wasn’t born until Nov. 20, 2004, shortly after his father’s final season concluded.
“So I never got to spend time in a big league clubhouse or anything like that,” he said. “What [my Dad] gave me the most is when he talks about the mental side of the baseball game and how you have to deal with that first, because if your mental side is messed up, you won't be able to perform on the field. Just keeping that on my head and keeping that with me is something I learned from him the most.”
If Collier continues his rapid development as a player and person, it won’t be too long before he finally gets his own locker inside a Major League clubhouse with the Reds.