Guardians catcher Zack Collins went unclaimed on waivers and has been assigned outright to Triple-A Columbus, per the team’s transaction log at MLB.com. He was designated for assignment earlier in the week, when Cleveland claimed Eric Haase off waivers from the division-rival Tigers. Collins has been outrighted in the past and will thus have the option to reject the assignment in favor of free agency.
Selected by the White Sox with the No. 10 overall pick of the 2016 draft, Collins was viewed a bat-first catching prospect with plus raw power and a keen eye at the plate. Questions about his hit tool and ability to stick behind the plate have long existed, but Collins has displayed that ability to draw free passes and put the ball in the seats in pro ball. He’s walked in 13.1% of his big league plate appearances and boasts an even heartier 17.5% walk rate in the minors. Strikeout issues have cut into his power potential, but Collins still popped 19 homers in 471 trips to the plate between High-A and Double-A in 2017 and slugged 22 long balls between Triple-A and the big leagues in 468 plate appearances back in 2019.
Collins has just 11 home runs in 465 trips to the plate at the MLB level, and that’s due largely to a huge 33.5% strikeout rate. When Collins does make contact, it’s typically scalding; Statcast credits him with an average exit velocity of 91.2 mph and a 10.6% barrel rate in his career. He’s clobbered nearly 46% of his batted balls at 95 mph or greater — he’s just swung and missed too much to capitalize on that knack for hard contact. He’s a career .188/.300/.329 hitter in the big leagues but carries a much better .252/.371/.468 slash in 1040 plate appearances at the Triple-A level.
Defensively, Collins has drawn below-average grades in framing and blocking. He posted strong caught-stealing rates earlier in his minor league career but has struggled over the past two seasons — particularly under the new rules in 2023 (4-for-32). Collins has begun to log more time at first base and designated hitter in recent seasons.