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White Sox

Young White Sox catcher ready to break into major leagues

White Sox catcher Zack Collins throws the ball back to a pitcher Feb. 15, 2017, at the Sox's spring training facility in Glendale, Ariz.
White Sox catcher Zack Collins throws the ball back to a pitcher Feb. 15, 2017, at the Sox's spring training facility in Glendale, Ariz.

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Certain parts of Zack Collins’ game still might need a boost, but the confidence level is at a record high.

“My goal is to be a Silver Slugger/Gold Glover,” he said.

That would be just fine for the White Sox.

Of course, Collins has to actually be in the major leagues in order to accomplish those lofty aspirations.

The 24-year-old catcher has his sights set on breaking training camp on the Sox’s 25-man roster.

With veterans Welington Castillo and James McCann ahead of Collins on the depth chart, that’s not likely to happen.

Look for Collins – the No. 10 overall pick in the 2016 draft – to join the Sox during the season, probably after the All-Star break.

“One hundred percent,” Collins said when asked if he’s ready for the majors. “I’m going into my third full season here. I think if I perform the way I’ve been training to do, there’s going to be a time during the season when I come up.”

Joining the Sox after a decorated three-year run at the University of Miami (Florida), Collins had the reputation of having a potent bat and a defensive game in need of major work.

His throwing from behind the plate has markedly improved, and catching 190 minor-league games since coming out of college has helped Collins learn to call better games.

“I would say I’m a totally different player now,” he said. “I think I’ve gotten a lot better in the couple of years I’ve been here, offensively and defensively. Obviously, I’ve been working on defense a lot because that’s been the weaker side of my game. But on both sides, I think I’m doing good, and I’m a different player now.”

Expected to open the season at Triple-A Charlotte after spending all of 2018 with Double-A Birmingham, Collins might get back to working on his hitting.

Although he led the Southern League with 101 walks last year while ranking second with a .382 on-base percentage, fifth with 68 RBIs and seventh with 15 home runs, Collins batted .234 and struck out 158 times in 531 trips to the plate.

Splitting the 2017 season between Birmingham and high Class A Winston-Salem, Collins combined to bat .224.

Manager Rick Renteria is confident Collins is going to hit when he eventually joins the Sox.

“He’s been trying to enhance his receiving ability, enhance his ability to manage pitchers, getting to know them, the nuances of that position,” Renteria said. “He’s a guy that’s always hit, so you can see he was really working, focusing on one aspect of his game. I think his mindset, his approach, gives him a chance of being able to settle in and adapt and adjust to that very demanding position.”

Collins has been eager to make it to the major leagues since he was drafted by the Sox. That trait still exists, but the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder also has improved in the patience department.

“It was hard the first couple of years,” Collins said. “I was a college guy. I was obviously a high draft pick, and I kind of expected to move really fast through the system. But there are things that need to develop before I get to the major-league level. I get that now, and I think I’m ready. I’ll be pushing this year.”

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