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White Sox MLB draft 2016 possibilities: Zack Collins, C, Miami

Lefty-hitting catcher is mashing his way up draft boards

After starting our MLB draft series with Louisville outfielder Corey Ray, we stick with collegiate position players and look into Miami (Fla.) catcher Zack Collins.

Who is Zack Collins?

Collins is a junior at the University  of Miami. A catcher by trade, he is a big strong young man -- 6'3" and 225 pounds of muscle. He bats left and throws right. He was well-known in high school but had a strong desire to go the college route. Each year in Miami has been better than the last. He looks to come off the board somewhere in the first round.

How does he rank?

Baseball America had him at No. 42 in March, which gives you some impression of how much is stock is rising.

What's his game?

The bat is very advanced. Scouts have agreed that he will be able to thrive against Major League pitching.

How good is it? In his three three years at Miami, a big program:

  • 2014: .298/.427 /.556
  • 2015: .302/.445 /.587
  • 2016: .372/.549 /.628

So far this year, he's drawn 61 walks to 37 strikeouts over 148 at-bats, with 10 homers and 48 RBIs over 49 games.

That is how good his bat is. There are divergent views on whether he can stay behind the plate.

What does he look like?

Why would the White Sox draft him?

Visions of Kyle Schwarber dance in your head, you say? Well, you are not alone. That comp comes up often while researching Collins. The difference between the two is that Schwarber has more power. Before he was drafted, nobody thought he could stay behind the plate. Of course after he was drafted, 25 to 35 percent thought he might still catch. This group, of course, was mostly composed of dewy-eyed Cubs fans. Schwarber also has a problem with left-handed pitching.

What are the chances that Collins can stick behind the dish? Seems about 40 percent. The arm is average. This year his caught-stealing rate is 26 percent. He blocks fairly well. Framing ... who knows. So he's fine really. He just doesn't hang his hat on his defense at the collegiate level, so you'd call him bat-first.

So why draft a guy who ranks in the bottom half of the first round on most boards with the 10th pick? You would have to believe that he can stay behind the plate. A power-hitting left-handed catcher is a very nice thing to have.

If you think he can't catch, then he is just a DH and/or first baseman. Every team has needs  though. The White Sox happen to play in the American League and have 600 at-bats to offer at DH, which is something the Cubs can't offer Schwarber. The Sox have no catcher of the future, no backup at first base, and their DH retired to send more time with his family.

If they could see him as good enough to back up at the catcher position -- 40-60 starts? -- he would fit the needs of  your Chicago White Sox like a glove. His bat is very good and he could be quick to the big leagues. At 21 years old, he could even be Jose Abreu's eventual replacement. He would be the White Sox' first left-handed hitting first baseman since the 1980s.

Why would the White Sox draft somebody else?

If they don't think he can catch in the pros, his speed is just so-so, so maybe they'd look for somebody with more usable upside elsewhere.

Where is he going in mock drafts?

That's's most recent mock draft, anyway. In the previous version, the White Sox were tied to Collins with the 10th pick, hence this profile.