Zack Collins CATCHING on for the Chicago White Sox

Yesterday, we took a look at Dakota Hudson, who was projected to go tenth in the Today’s Knuckleball Almost Mock Draft. Hudson, of course, wound up going 34th overall to the St. Louis Cardinals while the Chicago White Sox — owners of the tenth pick — went a completely different direction.

Skipping over pitching, the White Sox swooped in and took the best catching prospect in this year’s crop.

Almost Mock Draft: Three that could break the top ten | Actual MLB Draft: No. 10 — Chicago White Sox

Collins was one of the most enticing power bats entering the draft. The most attractive part about his big left-handed bat was that he was actually a solid hitter as well. The only question surrounding Collins was where he would fit into future plans as his defense behind the plate was considered one of his few weaknesses.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound catcher had been on the national radar since high school with his pretty and nearly-flawless left-handed swing putting balls over fences since he was a teenager. He headed to University of Miami in 2014 and become their full-time catcher, becoming one of the premier backstops in the nation as Miami went to consecutive College World Series with him as their heralded leader.

The 2016 college season was particularly impressive as the 21-year-old took home the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s top collegiate catcher. He showed his maturity as a hitter, setting career-highs in not just home runs (16) but batting average (.363) as well. Collins was an on-base machine, finishing second in the country in on-base percentage (.544) and leading the nation in walks with a career-best 78 in just 62 games.

Despite Miami being swept out of Omaha by Arizona and the upstart UC Santa Barbara, Collins didn’t go down without a fight, increasing his draft stock with a big two games. He went 3-for-5 in Omaha, walking three times and striking out twice, while blasting a home run and driving in two before his collegiate career came to a close.

If Collins’ defense behind the plate was elite, he would have probably been in the 1-1 conversation, but many see him as a future first baseman or possibly designated hitter. He wasn’t terrible behind the plate by any means, posting a .990 fielding percentage his junior season, but he threw out just nine of 27 attempted base thieves, while allowing three passed balls in 412 total chances.

The White Sox weren’t concerned and made Collins the 10th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, while he was still amid the College World Series. Collins wasted little time signing the paperwork, playing his last collegiate game June 20 and inking his name June 24 for a $3,380,600 signing bonus, the exact pick value for his slot.

He headed to the Arizona League, registering a hit in his first career professional at bat. It was his only hit in his three-game tenure in the AZL, striking out an uncharacteristic seven times while walking none over the same span. By July 14, he was skipping over Low-A and headed to the Carolina League of Advanced-A for the Winston-Salem Dash.

It didn’t take long for Collins to introduce himself to Carolina League pitching.

For more about the White Sox enticing catching prospect, head on over to Today’s Knuckleball for my full feature by clicking on the link below:

Zack Collins impressing at the plate, room to improve behind it

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