White Sox Minor Keys: May 9, 2018

When you look at Zack Collins‘ game log, you can draw a line on April 23. Statistically, he was an absolute mess beforehand, and he’s been an absolute beast since.

Before 4/23 51 .054 .294 .135 25.5 37.3
After 4/23 68 .396 .573 .688 27.9 17.6

As Collins tells it, that date is more than a convenient endpoint. That’s about the time he received video from the Miami Hurricanes that helped show him what his stance looked like as he compiled the resume that made him a top-10 draft pick.

In a video sent from the Hurricanes, Collins noted that his college stance was more spread out and that his hands were higher, allowing him to see the ball better and attack fastballs up in the zone more efficiently. He showed the tape to Birmingham coaches and put the old stance into action on April 24 against Pensacola. The result: 2-for-4 with two doubles, four RBIs and a walk.

“Honestly, it just changed in the one game,” Collins said. “Right away from the first at-bat, I could tell I was seeing the ball a lot better. I almost wish I would’ve stuck to this since I got drafted. Unfortunately, I didn’t, but things seem to be working really well now.”

Collins didn’t blame the White Sox for tinkering with him, at least entirely:

“It wasn’t completely them changing me,” he said. “It was in between them and myself working on some things. I just wish I had stuck to what was working in the first place and gone from there. I felt like I almost wasted a year. It’s OK now, though, and that’s what’s important.”

Charlotte 4, Gwinnett 1

  • That’s four hits in two days for Charlie Tilson, who went 2-for-5 with a strikeout and a stolen base.
  • Eddy Alvarez was 1-for-4 with a strikeout.

Birmingham 16, Pensacola 3

  • Zack Collins doubled, singled, walked twice and struck out twice.
  • Eloy Jimenez now has nine straight multi-hit games after going 2-for-3 with two doubles and a walk.
  • Seby Zavala went 2-for-6 with his ninth homer.
  • Matt Rose was 2-for-5 with a double and a strikeout.
  • Jameson Fisher was 2-for-3 with a walk and an HBP.
  • Jordan Stephens wants a piece of Charlotte: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K
  • Ryan Burr: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR


*James Fegan’s latest Birmingham dispatch tracks Stephens and other Barons pitchers on their use of Trackman data.

“They talked a lot to me about spin rate, and apparently I have a really good one,” Stephens said. “That must be why I like throwing fastballs up in the zone because it always worked for me. I didn’t know that before this spring training. Before this spring training I just figured people just don’t hit my high fastballs but it turns out it has a little bit more carry to it, so people think it’s going to be an inch or inch-and-a-half lower than it’s actually going to be. We also talk a lot about pitch sequencing this year, as far as fastballs up, working your curveball off your fastball, up and vice versa.”

Winston-Salem 10, Salem 8 (10 innings)


*Here is the video of Rutherford’s blast, which was more resounding than his first homer.

Kannapolis 10, Greenville 2

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Blake Rutherford hitting home runs pleases me.


If this is a turning point for Collins I would be thrilled….

But I am very concerned about our talent pipeline. It seems like “needs some adjustments” has been a death knell for prospects in our system for years. We need to develop talent from high A to the MLB for the rebuild to work and I am not convinced we have the right coaches in place.


I’m feeling pretty good about our talent pipeline, especially in the outfield, catcher and pitcher. There is no time in recent memory where I’ve felt better.


I include minor league coaching as part of the teardown.


Another story of Not The White Sox possibly helping a prospect turn a corner.


That Collins thing is a big Red Flag.  I think he was being a team player by taking some of the blame.

But I think in his mind his blame is him letting them change his mechanics and going along with it.  

But it’s not like he really had a choice.  You come into a professional organization after signing a large contract and you do what you are told. You listen to the “experts”.  I hope Hostetler is alarmed by this and follows up.  

Lurker Laura

The Collins story is just as upsetting as the loss yesterday. Maybe more so, in terms of the future. His college coaches had to send him old tape, because they were witnessing the Sox screw him up so badly? Good Lord.


Its a lot more so.

You cant rebuild if you cant develop. Every trade or draft pick in the world for young players wont matter if you cant develop.


I would also add something Dunning said recently, along the lines that the best advice he’s had was a few tips from Shields during spring training.


But on the other hand, when changing what has made a player successful, the org needs to get players to buy in. Some may be more stubborn than others, but selling ideas and getting commitment from players needs to be an organizational skill

Josh Nelson

It’s not really Hostetler’s place. Development is Chris Getz’s territory.


Yes that’s who I meant.  I initially typed Hahn and that seems correct also.  But yeah Getz, let’s see your mettle.  


But Hostetler can’t just draft anyone and tell Getz “here, now he’s your problem”. We don’t know where the possible breakdown is; Hostetler’s crew, Getz’s crew, communication between the 2 or the analytics dept. But it seems there is one.


The amateur scouting director HAS to move on after the draft – he’s got another draft to prepare for and that takes a long time. He can’t be spending time developing players, and he’s consulted on players in other orgs the team is considering acquiring.

Hahn has to ensure that the amateur scouts and the minor league development staff are following what Hahn wants. That’s probably the hardest part of the rebuild because this organization is loaded with people that have been there a long time and don’t have a good resume of successful prospect development. That’s part of what bothered me about Getz being hired – he has little experience – but maybe his few years in Kansas City showed him some obvious differences in approach.


The collins situation is pretty crazy, and definitely a bit of an indictment on sox hitting coaches.

This is the reason I am still banging the drums on singer being the pick, the sox can draft and develop pitching and you can always trade a couple arms for a position player if need be.


Of course the last few high picks on pitching are struggling (Fulmer) or on the DL (Rodon, Hansen, Burdi)


I will take my chances with all those guys and previous college arms vs what they have gotten selecting position players.

The bulk of their drafting has been bad in general, I just think its been worse on the hitting side.


Yes, I don’t know what to make of it, but it doesn’t sound good on the surface. I can understand making a change in a player’s approach (let’s assume it was merited here) but was there a Plan B for when that didn’t go well? It certainly doesn’t sound like the org was wedded to the direction it had taken but was instead open to Collins making changes. And does the org think this approach will stick or does it expect Collins will run into trouble? And doesn’t the org have extensive Miami tapes to examine as well as share with Collins?

lil jimmy

All and all, a nice day down on the farm.




Aside from the concerns about development, something else stuck out to me about the Collins story.   There was a line in there about his walk rate. It’s the highest in Double A by a wide margin and the 2nd highest in the minor leagues (I think it said the higher one was in High A).  

There’s been a lot of questions around here on whether his walk rate will translate as he goes up. It seems if your walk rate is 6% higher than anyone else in AA, we can start to consider it a skill rather than a consequence of bad pitching. 

Greg Nix

The question isn’t whether he has a good eye, it’s whether he can make enough contact for the eye to matter. If you’re hitting .170 and striking out 40% of the time, major league pitchers will just throw you strikes, so you won’t walk enough to have any significant value. Engel has a pretty good eye, but can’t hit a lick so pitchers don’t have to respect it. 


This. The rub on Collins’ hitch is that it will make him vulnerable to inside heat. Doesn’t matter how good his eye is if ML pitchers can just get him out pounding the inside of the zone.


The question then becomes if the hitch is from his Miami swing or developed from them tinkering with it after he was drafted. He mentioned in the article being able to get to high fastballs better with his swing, we’ll see how the rest of the season goes but he’s been on a tear lately.

As for Engel, he didn’t even have a track record of hitting in the minors outside of the fall league so it’s not surprising he’s struggling with the Sox.

If Collins continues to do well the rest of the season at the plate it stands to reason he should be able to do enough damage for his batting eye to play up.

Greg Nix

They changed his swing because they were trying to reduce the hitch in his existing (college) swing. Seems like he may have found a middle ground.


Not many players can cover the entire plate. If he’s vulnerable to inside heat, the question is whether that is inside on the corner or farther inside. If he has the eye to recognize that it’s not a strike, it’s not that much of a vulnerability. And one way to address it is to stand an inch or two farther off the plate. I think Harold Baines had the exact same knock on him – find Sox games on youtube from 1980 and see how close Harold stood to the plate compared to how far off he stood circa 1983.

The damning part of this interview with Collins is that they tried to change his swing immediately. That’s stupid! Wait a year or so and see if it’s merited – if it looks ugly but produces results then let it go. Players may have ego problems, but so do coaches.


ZiPS and Steamer projected him for a 13.x% walk rate, and that was when he didn’t have much of a track record in AA. So presumably similar players have had good major league walk rates. Whether that makes up for high strikeout rate, low BABIP, and poor defense is another matter.


I would usually be the first person to jump on that Collins quote with a #firexxxx. But his switch in mechanics hasn’t changed my (lean negative) opinion on him. Wait and see til season end for me before I press for indictments.

lil jimmy

His last ten games are just sick.
32 at bats / 12 hits / 13 walks.
How do you even do that?


I’m not saying that it doesn’t jive with the switch in mechanics. I’m just exercising restraint for a change, and not call for anybody’s head.


Another interesting turnaround: Thyago Vieira has 19 Ks in his last 12 innings….


Collins is “fixed” now!  Yeah!!!

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