MLBTR continues its Draft Prospect Q&A series in order to give our readers a look at some of the top names on the board in this year’s draft. MLBTR will be chatting with some of the draft’s most well-regarded prospects as they prepare for the 2016 draft on June 9-11; we’ve already spoken with Florida outfielder Buddy Reed, prep outfielder Blake Rutherford, Mercer’s Kyle Lewis, Oklahoma’s Alec Hansen and Louisville’s Corey Ray.
University of Miami catcher Zack Collins has been down this path before. Three years ago, he was projected to be selected as high as the second round of the MLB draft – but he wasn’t picked until the 27th round due to signability questions. This time around, he figures to hear his name around the middle of the first round.
The 6’3”, 230-pound Collins is a left-handed power hitter with a very patient approach at the plate. Heading into the final week of regular-season play, he ranks among the Division I national leaders in walks (59) and on-base percentage (.560) as part of his .387/.560/.655 slash line.
Last week, Baseball America listed him No. 16 on its Top 100 Draft Prospects chart, and he’s currently 20th on the Top 100 at MLB.com. ESPN.com’s Keith Law recently wrote, “I’ve heard he’s in the mix for at least two teams in the Top 10, including Oakland.”
Collins talked with MLBTR earlier this week:
Chuck Wasserstrom: Hi Zack. Thanks for talking to me today. I want to start out with a couple draft-related questions. Coming out of high school, you could have been a high-round pick, but you weren’t because of signability – and the Cincinnati Reds selected you in the 27th round. Was there any scenario where you would have turned pro instead of going to college?
Zack Collins: “It was a number thing. My family and I set a number, and it wasn’t matched. So I had no problem going to college. It was my dream school, and I think I made the right decision.”
It still must be pretty cool to be 18 years old and know that Cincinnati just drafted you. Was it tough to say, “Thanks – but no thanks?”
“At that point, it was the 27th round – and they were offering nowhere near the number that I set. I was really excited and honored to be drafted by them – and to just be drafted at all – but it honestly wasn’t very tough to say ‘No.’ ”
You grew up less than 30 minutes from the University of Miami campus. Really, how tough of a recruiting process was it for them to lure you there?
“I always wanted to go there. I don’t think there was any other school that I had in mind. I don’t know. I went to all the camps and they liked me. One of the first offers they made to me … I said ‘Yes.’ It was pretty easy.”
There have been some pretty big-time bats that have gone through that program – like Pat Burrell, Ryan Braun and Yonder Alonso. How does it feel to have your name mentioned in the same sentence as them?
“It’s honoring, but it’s kind of tough to put my name in with them. They’ve done a lot more than I have so far. But, honestly, it feels great to be mentioned in those categories. Hopefully, I can keep it up just like them.”
[Interview continued after the page break]