Over the last six years, the White Sox have had a curse of less than mediocre catchers behind the plate. The former first-rounder Zack Collins has the potential to break that curse.
When he was drafted tenth overall by the White Sox, former Miami Hurricanes catcher Zack Collins was clearly a smart pick. It has been a while since the Sox had a decent catcher.
Ever since the departure of A.J. Periezyski after the 2012 season, the White Sox never really had an All-Star caliber catcher. Or even All-Star potential at that matter.
In 2013, the team’s first year without Periezyski since before the championship 2005 year, the White Sox everyday catcher was Tyler Flowers who batted a mere .195. The catcher who saw the second most action was Josh Phegley, who hit .206. In 2014, Flowers hit .241, showing some potential.
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As well did Adrian Nieto who hit .236. Then Flowers fell to .239 and Geovany Soto hit .219 in 2015. In 2016 Dioner Navarro caught the most games as Flowers was in Atlanta. The shakeup, however, did not help as Navarro hit .210 and Alex Avila hit .213.
In 2017, the catcher position for the Sox saw the most promise. Omar Narvaez hit .277 and Kevan Smith hit .283. Narvaez, to me at least, was the most exciting through his two years with the team, but he lacked the defensive skills to be that All-Star catcher. It is a shame we will not be able to see Narvaez develop up close, but we wish him the best in Seattle.
Back from his suspension last season, Welington Castillo is expected to start behind the plate on Opening Day. Then with the addition of James McCann from the Detroit Tigers, it seems the Sox are contempt with what they have. That is until Collins is ready to play in the majors.
There has been a consistent problem with White Sox catchers since Pierzynski, and that is batting average. Unfortunately, Collins will not change that. In three seasons in the Sox organization, Collins has hit .232. Fortunately, what Collins lacks in contact, he makes up for in getting on base.
Last season with Double-A Birmingham, Collins walked 101 times in 531 plate appearances. This pushed his OBP to be .382 with an OPS of .786. These numbers are not overwhelming, but for a catcher prospect, fans can be excited to see how he plays once called up.
His defensive numbers are worth mentioning as well. Eliminating 48 percent of base stealers in his three years in the minors is a statistic that fans can be excited about. His arm is listed as 50 in the 20-80 scout grading scale. Though he does have a fielding grade of 45, he could still end up being the best defensive catcher since the magically framing Flowers.
Collins is expected to begin his 2019 with Double-A Birmingham. But with a splendid Spring, he could potentially make the jump to Triple-A Charlotte. However, the seventh-best catching prospect according to MLB’s Top 100, will have to out-perform Seby Zavala, the current Charlotte Knights catcher.
Buster Posey and Yadier Molina are hard to come by these days behind the plate. I am not saying Collins will be for the Sox what Molina has been for the Cardinals. But I am saying, when finished developing in the minors (which is expected to be either this or next year), Collins has the potential to break the White Sox below-average-catcher curse.