Heading into the 2020 season, the Chicago White Sox look ready to compete with their mix of recently added veterans and a core of young players. One of the forgotten players of that core is catcher Zack Collins. Collins was the White Sox first-round pick in 2016 as he was viewed as one of the best hitters in that year’s draft. Although not projected as a starter, the former first-round pick still provides important value to the White Sox this season.
Collins’ biggest attribute is that he is a left-handed power hitter. He has a great ability to get on base as he drew 101 walks in Double-A Birmingham back in 2018. Collins also has the potential to drive the ball as he smacked 19 home runs and 19 doubles in just 88 games while at Triple-A Charlotte last season.
When he was called up to the majors last season, he demonstrated his strengths in his first two plate appearances as he walked in his debut, and then hit a 447-ft 3-run home run in his next at-bat. It was downhill from there for Collins as he would register just one hit in his next 25 at-bats before being sent back down in mid-July. When he was called back up in September, it appeared that everything changed for him.
In the month of September, Collins would rack up 14 hits including two home runs and eight walks in 18 games. He made key adjustments as he was able to lay off high-speed pitches that were up in the zone. Collins also appeared more confident turning on the ball rather than driving the ball to the opposite field.
With the additions of Yasmani Grandal at catcher and Edwin Encarnacion at DH, Collins will likely be limited to a bench role. His role will be key as he provides the White Sox a left-handed bat off the bench late in games. His strength of being able to draw walks is key for a team that has struggled to draw walks consistently over the last few years. He also is projected to be the team’s only left-handed bat off the bench which is vital for matchups late in games.
The other value Collins provides the White Sox in 2020 is that he could be a valuable trade asset. With the team likely to contend, they will need to provide added value if there’s a player that can help them win now. Collins has value as a potential middle of the order left-handed hitter. If his playing time and growth is blocked with the White Sox, it may intrigue another team to want him as a return piece in a trade.
Collins not having a place to start demonstrates how well the White Sox have rebuilt their roster over the last three seasons. Although he will not start, he will be an important piece to the White Sox 26-man roster, especially midway through the season. It may not look like now, but Collins will play a factor one way or another in how the 2020 White Sox season unfolds.