On Father's Day, the dream of Zack Collins and his father came true as Collins earned the call to the major leagues prior to the two-game series against the Cubs. On Wednesday night, he recorded his first plate appearance and drew a walk, a fitting beginning for the prospect most notable for his ability to draw walks in the White Sox system. In an interview, his father mentioned that he would forever be happy if his son played just one major league game. Well, Mr. Collins will certainly have a lot to be happy about as Zack made his presence known in Friday night's series opener against Texas and figures to continue to do so for years to come.
After only pinch-hitting in his MLB debut, Collins drew his first start in Texas, hitting eighth as the designated hitter. To earn his first major league hit, he obliterated a 2-2 pitch deep to center field for a three-run homer to give the Sox the lead.
It was a great at-bat through and through, as he showcased his good eye by watching two close pitches go by, putting himself in the driver's seat with a 2-0 count. The first pitch was a borderline fastball that just missed the outside corner. OK, impressive. The second pitch he laid off of really showed me that his skills are advanced, however. Rangers' starter Ariel Jurado threw a sharp curveball that started off as a strike but quickly dove out of the zone. In a count that the hitter may not be locked in on a curveball, this is a tough pitch to lay off of. You'll see many young prospects without major league experience swing out of their shoes and hack away at this pitch. Not Collins, however. He watched that pitch go by and drew the count to 2-2 on two tough pitches, then sat on an 84 MPH slider that he absolutely CRUSHED. It's an approach like this that shows that he has the capability to stick around at the highest level.
The home run was also a welcome sight because.... isn't it wonderful when your designated HITTER, hits?? He may not have done much else the rest of the game, but it's head and shoulders better than the scarce amounts of production the White Sox have gotten from the position that is on the lineup card to strictly to hit. It doesn't take 20/20 vision to see that Yonder Alonso certainly hasn't been reliable when called upon to hit. With his consistent struggles and a one-year contract that vests if he reaches 526 plate appearances, keeping him out of the lineup is a win in more ways than one.
Before Collins, no real upgrades existed at DH. Now, the White Sox lineup is much more balanced and the DH spot can become more of a strength, even if Collins doesn't always occupy this role.
Zack Collins should in the majors for good. Rick Hahn has always mentioned that decisions on these big-name prospects will only be made on the player's overall readiness, and not the urgency of the needs at the major league level. If you don't believe this, look at how the case of Dylan Cease is being handled. The Sox are trotting out fully depreciated slow-pitch machines multiple times per week and adding stopgaps like Hector Santiago mid-season while Cease remains in the minors. In terms of position players, we have much bigger holes in the lineup than at catcher where All-Star candidate James McCann has been a stud. We called up a catcher, so case and point. I think that if this was temporary until Welington Castillo returns from injury, then Seby Zavala would have been called up again to man the backup position. I also think that if this was temporary there wouldn't be much of a chance that Collins would see time at DH. This, to me, should signal the end of the Yonder Alonso era whenever Castillo returns from injury.
Collins being here to stay works out for the best, as he can DH to keep his bat in the lineup and get accustomed to hitting against lefties. He'll also keep getting his reps behind the plate to keep McCann fresh while learning how to handle major league pitchers from one of the best in the game. He could even draw the occasional start at first base to give Jose Abreu a breather. Collins staying along with Castillo would allow for the White Sox to put their best lineup out there, that includes two catchers in McCann and Collins, without running the risk of losing the privilege of the DH spot if the catcher has to exit the game. Now, Castillo can just be the emergency catcher and a late-inning pinch-hitter and allow for my ideal lineup when Jon Jay returns.
- Jon Jay, RF
- Yoan Moncada, 3B
- Jose Abreu, 1B
- James McCann, C/DH
- Eloy Jimenez, LF
- Zack Collins, DH/C
- Tim Anderson, SS
- Leury Garcia, CF
- Yolmer Sanchez, 2B
Obviously, this wouldn't be set in stone, but this lineup construction makes the most sense to me. It's much more balanced and eliminates the risk of losing the DH spot. This is all possible thanks to the Zack Collins being here, so hopefully he's here to stay.
Congrats on the first dinger of many, Zack!
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