Zack Collins was the first player drafted in Nick Hostetler's first draft as White Sox Director of Amateur Scouting. The first pick of what seems like a change in White Sox draft philosophy. For years the Sox drafted heavy on tools; many of those top draft picks lacked the approach necessary to make it in the Majors. But then came Zack Collins, whose calling card is power and patience.
I can't help but point out a few notes of trivia surrounding Collins. First, he was born Feb. 6, 1995 – which is 100 years to the day after Babe Ruth was born. It's something Collins is well aware of (I brought it up to him). What he wasn't aware of was that it wasn't the first time the White Sox drafted a player born 100 years to the day after an all-time great.
The White Sox took Chris Carter in the 15th round in 2005. Carter was born Dec. 18, 1986 – 100 years to the day after Ty Cobb was born. The White Sox also drafted Mike Lowell in the 48th round of the 1992 draft (though he didn't sign). Lowell was born Feb. 24, 1974 – 100 years to the day after Honus Wagner was born.
That's three of the five members of the inaugural Hall of Fame class of 1936! They did NOT draft anyone born exactly 100 years after Christy Mathewson or Walter Johnson. I checked.
Perhaps Collins was lost in the shuffle entering 2018, with young players and prospects such as Yoán Moncada, Michael Kopech and Eloy Jiménez dominating headlines. But Collins made headlines of his own this past season.
While it doesn't mean considerably much in terms of his development as a future Major Leaguer (although it is fun), Collins won the 2018 Southern League Home Run Derby. Collins definitely has some pop, with 15 home runs in 2018 after hitting 19 the season before. He had a monster 38-game stretch last season where he hit .349/.503/.595 with seven home runs and a phenomenal ratio of 40 strikeouts to 39 walks.
My favorite note on Collins in 2018 is that he was one of three players in the Minor Leagues in 2018 to walk at least 100 times. His 101 bases on balls led all of Double-A, one ahead of Cavan Biggio from the Blue Jays system (Craig's son). The only other Minor Leaguer to reach triple digits was Ryan Noda (109) of the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts, also in the Blue Jays system.
The ability to draw walks is desperately needed. There were 11 players who had at least 200 plate appearances for the White Sox in 2018. Of those 11, the two players with the best walk percentages, Omar Narváez (11.8 percent) and Matt Davidson (10.5 percent) are no longer with the team. Somebody needs to draw walks for the White Sox. Hopefully Collins will be part of the solution down the road.