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Future White Sox catcher improving all-around game

Former No. 10 overall pick Collins shows he's more than a big bat
August 16, 2018

CHICAGO -- The offensive statistics for Zack Collins look impressive as Double-A Birmingham's 2018 season moves toward a close.Collins' .399 on-base percentage tops the Southern League, enhanced by his .824 OPS, 14 home runs and 60 RBIs. Those numbers really stand out when considering the No. 8 White Sox prospect

CHICAGO -- The offensive statistics for Zack Collins look impressive as Double-A Birmingham's 2018 season moves toward a close.
Collins' .399 on-base percentage tops the Southern League, enhanced by his .824 OPS, 14 home runs and 60 RBIs. Those numbers really stand out when considering the No. 8 White Sox prospect per MLB Pipeline started the year mired in a 2-for-37 slump.
But hitting the ball was never an issue for the organization's catcher of the future. When asked for a true defining moment of his third season in the White Sox system, the 23-year-old pointed to his work with the pitchers.
"My leadership and relationship with pitchers have gotten a lot better this year, and I have a lot of trust from a lot of guys who are on the mound when I'm catching," Collins told MLB.com during a recent interview. "It's definitely a fun time when you and the pitcher are working on the same mindset and your guys trust each other."
"From the offseason to Day 1 in Spring Training, he's definitely put being a catcher as a top priority," White Sox director of player development Chris Getz said. "He takes pride in that relationship with the pitchers, and the pitchers certainly have gone out there and produced with him. That's a testament to everything he's done."
As Collins sees it, studying the scouting reports and simply talking to the pitchers during batting practice and before games were keys for building trust.
"Just let them know that you actually care," Collins said. "You are here to make them better, and you are here obviously trying to get every single guy who steps up to the plate out.
"That's a big factor that goes into it. We've done meetings with pitching coaches and stuff like that. I like to talk to whoever is going on the mound, and knowing their goals for that game, it helps."
White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler took Collins with the 10th pick overall of the 2016 MLB Draft. Hostetler told reporters shortly thereafter he still would have taken Collins if the White Sox had the No. 1 pick

Described as possessing Major League offensive capabilities after coming from the University of Miami, neither Collins' early 2018 slump nor his .224 average in '17 between Class A Winston-Salem and Birmingham dissuaded that notion. He already has drawn 214 walks against 311 strikeouts in 260 career games, and according to White Sox Minor League hitting coordinator Mike Gellinger, Collins has taken off since being able to barrel up more offspeed pitches.
"He could always hit a fastball," Gellinger said. "The thing about Zack is that his numbers offensively are like the big league top guys. He doesn't swing a whole lot. When he does, he does some damage. He takes a lot of walks. His OBP is off the charts. Things like that."
One of Collins' goals offensively is to reduce strikeouts, which in turn would bring his average up. He wants to have fewer strikeouts than walks, but he also doesn't want to fall into a rut of being too patient.
"Sometimes I kind of forget how good I can be and how quickly I can drive in runs," Collins said. "Getting those pitches that are over the plate -- whether it's a fastball, change or slider -- I need to be taking advantage of those and driving them into the gap."
Any doubts of Collins sticking at catcher have been erased. Just ask pitchers Dylan Cease, Jimmy Lambert, Dane Dunning and Bernardo Flores, all of whom have done high-level work with him.
"When you are kind of known as an offensive catcher, everybody is thinking you might be moving to another position," Collins said. "I don't see why any team wouldn't want an offensive catcher. It's adding another bat in the lineup. It helps the team out a lot."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.