Padres Prospect Interview: Michael Collins

SAN ANTONIO, TX.: Missions' catcher Michael Collins is only 24 but is already in his ninth year of professional baseball after coming over to the states at 16 from Canberra, Australia when he was signed by the then California Angels.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Collins played eight years in the Angels organization,mostly at catcher although occasionally at first as well, finishing with career numbers of .277/.349/.393. His best year was with Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League where he hit .320/.412/.482.

In the off-season, he signed with the Padres where he's Mitch Canham's backup while seeing some time at first base. He's a solid defensive catcher who does have some power.

Being from Australia, where baseball is at best the third or fourth most popular sport, how did you develop into a professional baseball player?

Michael Collins: A friend when I was young, maybe 10 or 11 at the time, was playing baseball and he asked me to play. That following summer I went out and played, had a lot of fun - and things went ok, and here I am.

Cricket is so popular in Australia, you guys have the best team in the world, how did you stay away from playing it?

Michael Collins: I played cricket the year before, but I kind of got into baseball first, in that it was the sport that I really liked. I played cricket the year before and had more fun in baseball. I had a few friends that asked me why didn't I play cricket and I just ended up here first.

As someone that has played baseball at a high level, what is the main difference between the two sports?

Michael Collins: They are very different obviously, but the one thing that is the same is that it is a bat and ball game. Other than that, once you get out in cricket, you are done, that is it. The ball bounces and there are quite a few variations, just like in baseball. There are just so many differences.

You are only 24 and this is your ninth year playing professional baseball. You came over here at 16, very far away from home as a professional. How was the adjustment?

Michael Collins: The biggest adjustment was fending for myself. When you are at home Mom and Dad cook, do all the laundry and everything for me. I had to learn to do that. When you are 16, you think you can do anything, and I thought I would be fine. Looking back at it now, yes it was quite an adjustment.

How much responsibility did you have to take for yourself at 16? You can get in a lot of trouble in Phoenix, Arizona when you are out there by yourself?

Michael Collins: [laughs] Absolutely, you can. The Angels were pretty good about everything. They had apartments set up for us and vans and busses to take us where we needed to go. All I really had to do was make sure I had something to eat and clean a little.

What was the biggest adjustment to the US for you? Was it lack of vegemite?

Michael Collins: You know I'm not a big vegemite guy..

I tried that once, it was as if you were eating dirty socks.

Michael Collins: You can say its an acquired taste, mate [laughs]. Australia is very Americanized, there are some small differences. It's the same type of adjustment our Latin players have to make, especially with the language.

Your numbers were very good up to Double-A, where you tailed off some. What has been the biggest adjustment to Double-A and what do you need to do to improve?

Michael Collins: At every level you play you have to evolve. The pitchers are a little better and there is less opportunity to take advantage of a pitch over the middle. They can throw more than one pitch for a strike. At the higher levels, you need a little more pitch recognition and when you get a pitch don't miss it.

Last question do you see any major differences between the Padres organization and the Angels?

Michael Collins: It's all baseball, there are some minor differences, but we are all working towards the same goal, getting to the major leagues. Apart from the little things the big picture is all the same.

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