Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hitting Prosect #8: Zach Collier

I said a while ago that I would be working on a prospect list, but with everything that has gone on in the past few weeks, I have gotten away from that. Worry not, I am back to the prospect list. I left off with Steven Susdorf as my #9 hitting prospect. With my eighth selection, I continue with another outfield prospect from the 2008 draft, Zach Collier.

Collier was drafted by the Phillies in the first round, 34th overall, in the 2008 draft out of Chino Hills HS in California. Collier is a classic Phillies draft choice as he is a raw but toolsy player. Collier could become an all-star caliber outfielder or just aspire to publish a book titled “another guy’s life in the minor leagues.” Collier is a very athletic outfielder who projects to have plus speed, plus power, a plus arm, a plus bat, and a plus glove. Collier is 6’2” and 185 lbs, but is only 19 years old so he should fill out more as he matures. This will add to his power potential down the road.

As Collier is extremely raw, his production in the low minors has been very poor as he has appeared overmatched by single-A pitching in 2009. Collier did fair pretty well in 2008 as he hit .271 in rookie ball but hit only .221 with 1 homerun after being promoted to Williamsport and Lakewood in 2009. Collier did show good speed though, as he swiped 20 bases in 2009. Promoting 18-year olds to single-A is definitely an aggressive promotion, so having a disappointing season is no reason to give up on them as they usually are about 2-3 years younger than their competition. A main reason that high school batters usually don’t fair too well in single-A the first time around is the adjustment to wooden bats, and of course the increased competition from high school. Many batters find it a little bit easier to hit 75 mph fastballs in high school compared to 80 mph curveballs in the minors.

A good comparison for Collier would be Shane Victorino, as they have a very similar skill set. If Collier develops like expected, he will develop 20 homerun ability which is a little better than Victorino. Similar to Collier, Victorino struggled mightily as a 19 year old in single-A, as he only hit .246 at a lower level. Collier played rightfield for Lakewood in 2009 even though he has centerfielder skills. This is because Lakewood had another prospect that is a bit faster, about 56 steals faster. Yes, you heard that correct, Anthony Gose stole 76 bases in 2009. It is tough to compete with that type of speed as another outfielder.

Collier should not be expected to reach the majors anytime soon, but this is not based on lack of talent. Collier has plenty of talent, and almost unlimited potential, but is incredibly raw. It will take a good amount of time for Collier to develop his skills, but as he gains more experience, a severe increase in production should be expected. It is fortunate for Collier and the Phillies that he was drafted so high because it will force the organization to be more patient with him. Organizations that invest high draft picks and money to young players are willing to dedicate more time for them to develop. There is no true need for the Phillies to rush Collier as Domonic Brown, Tyson Gillies, and Anthony Gose are all ahead of him in the organizational depth chart. Due to Collier’s poor performance in 2009 and the Phillies lack of pressure to push him along, he should repeat single-A at Lakewood in 2010.

Collier is going to be a hit or miss type of player. He could be an all-star or never make it to the majors. If Collier has a breakout season in 2010, he could wind up being a top 3 prospect for the Phillies. Collier could also drop out of my top 10 prospects if he repeats his 2009 performance. It is important to understand that Collier could continue to have the on the field production of Eric “the modern day Mario Mendoza” Bruntlett, but if the Phillies are patient with him, Collier should be a successful outfielder for the Phillies down the line.

Hitting Prospects
8.) Zach Collier
9.) Stephen Susdorf
10.) Kyrell Hudson

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