KANSAS CITY -- Zack Collins began his big league career by drawing a walk as a pinch-hitter against the Cubs on June 19 at Wrigley Field. He followed up that plate appearance with a three-run home run two days later in Texas during his first official at-bat.
“Then I had a pretty nice shot to right that was caught,” Collins said. “After that, I kind of felt like I’m locked in, and then it’s gone straight downhill from there.
“I think it’s good. It’s part of what every rookie needs to go through and learn how to deal with that kind of pressure. I’m not really too worried about the hitting part.”
Collins will get to work on his game once again with Triple-A Charlotte, as he was optioned by the White Sox on Monday night following their 5-2 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Welington Castillo, who was on an injury rehab assignment with the Knights, is expected to be activated from the injured list Tuesday.
That "hitting part" had Collins with two hits in 26 big league at-bats this season, including 14 strikeouts against five walks. But even though his first stint was limited in terms of playing time, the No. 11 White Sox prospect, per MLB Pipeline, still views it as a positive experience. He also knows the .077 average next to his name is not anywhere close to indicative of his offensive ability.
“For sure,” Collins said. “Me getting in there every fifth day or fourth day or whatever it is, it’s tough for me. I’ve never really done that in my career. On top of that, it’s the big leagues and a little bit different. ...
"I definitely learned from my experience here. I know what I have to do to come back and succeed. I’m going to go down and do it and come back and succeed.”
White Sox manager Rick Renteria said: “I'm not looking at the numbers, I'm looking more at the total package in terms of the things that he's gained by being here. He knows that there are going to be other moments in time, and we'll continue to give him opportunities to do what he's doing. He's taking them in with an open mind, and he's been very honest with himself and the coaching staff.”
Collins has talked extensively with All-Star catcher James McCann and pitching coach Don Cooper concerning his work behind the plate, and he has done the same with hitting coach Todd Steverson on his offense. He also worked every day with bench coach Joe McEwing for 30 to 45 minutes pregame at first base, including Monday.
This is part of the hybrid job Collins eventually could have with the White Sox, working at catcher and first base, a part he now feels more comfortable handling.
“It was all awesome here,” Collins said. “It’s the big leagues. Everything was great. The food is great. They money is great. Everything is great. But, obviously, I want to play.
“My goal is to get as good as I can every day, and not playing can kind of, I guess, veer away from that. I continued to work here and got a lot of experience and a lot of learning. I’ll go back and go to work.”
Cease ready for start No. 2
Dylan Cease’s Major League debut came on July 3 at home against Detroit, which also marks the lone start until Tuesday for baseball’s No. 18 prospect overall, per MLB Pipeline. Tuesday’s outing at Kauffman Stadium will have far less hoopla than his big league debut, but it’s all part of the job for the right-hander.
“For me, personally, I’m just focused on executing pitches,” Cease said. “It’s the same, just execute and do as good as I can for the team.
“Just pretty much followed the same five-day routine that I’ve been doing. During the All-Star break, I threw one of those days but pretty much took a couple of days off. Now it’s just back into the lifting, arm care, throwing that I would do as if I were to start.”
Trade Deadline could be different
Renteria views this upcoming Trade Deadline as different from the two years past during the White Sox rebuild, especially with his team showing improvement and development in 2019.
“If you speak to Rick and Kenny,” he said, referring to general manager Rick Hahn and executive vice president Kenny Williams, “and look at the organization and where we're at, we're starting to kind of settle down a little bit. Maybe we're starting to turn the corner in terms of who we are in terms of acquisitions and/or moving players.
“They're starting to scratch the surface in terms of where they'll ultimately be, which may put us in a better position to be on the other side of it now, to add and to do things that are going to put us in a positive position as an organization moving forward. But definitely a different situation, I believe.”
He said it
“Sometimes I’m trying to do a little bit too much. It’s just part of it. It’s a learning experience and it’s been fun.”—Collins.