"It felt great," said Collins after taking part in batting practice prior to Saturday's game against the Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field. "It feels great to be hitting with some of the guys that I looked up to when I was young. I still look up to them now."
Collins, who also threw the ceremonial first pitch, swung with his father, mother, girlfriend, sister and grandparents taking pictures and watching with pride. He had a chance to meet Chris Sale, Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier among others in the White Sox clubhouse.
There even was a brief discussion with White Sox hitting coach Todd Steverson on the field.
"He was telling me to relax and calm down and let it go. Hit some into the stands," said Collins with a smile. "I was trying to take it a little easy there. I wasn't going to come in there and start having a home run derby. He told me to let it go, and so I started doing that."
During his junior season with the University of Miami, Collins let it go quite a bit. The left-handed hitter posted a .363 average, a .544 on-base percentage and a .668 slugging percentage, knocking out 16 homers and driving in 59 while serving as the Hurricanes' primary catcher.
The White Sox announced Collins' signing on Friday night for the recommended slot value of $3,380,600. But he will not report to their Arizona Rookie-level squad until July 2, getting a few days of rest after playing in the College World Series, with his next destination being Class A Advanced Winston-Salem soon thereafter.
"Definitely nice," Collins said. "I pretty much caught every game for Miami. It's nice to give my legs a little rest and get fresh and head out."
"We're probably going to give him a week or two to catch his breath a little bit," White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler said. "It's been a long season for him. We're probably going to send him to Arizona for a little bit and get his feet under him, and then to Winston."
Patrick Collins, Zack's father and first coach, explained that Zack started as an accomplished shortstop and pitcher. It was Zack who decided to move to catcher, just as it was Zack who started swinging left-handed on a set of golf clubs bought for him by Patrick's father. But Patrick originally balked at the position switch.
Luckily, another youth coach talked Patrick into letting Zack follow his new position dream.
"That other coach we had, he said, 'Listen. Let him do what he wants.' So I said, 'All right, let's do it,'" Patrick Collins said. "It has been a fun ride to watch him transition from shortstop and pitcher to catching. He says I'm going to do it and he worked really hard."
"Yeah, I think that's where I'll stick," said Zack of catching. "This is where I want to be in a couple of years, hopefully."