Phillies Prospect #36: Zach Collier

Had things played out perfectly in 2009, Zach Collier would be in the express lane through the Phillies' minor league system. Instead, he's just moving along at the usual speed limit for a prospect right out of high school.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the first round of the 2008 Draft.
Bats: L   Throws: L
Height: 6' 2"  Weight: 185 pounds
Birth Date: September 8, 1990
2009 Team(s): Williamsport (34 G), Lakewood (82 G)
Positions/Games: RF (61 G), LF (51 G), CF (3 G)
School: Chino Hills HS (California)
2009 Ranking: 15

Why Collier fell to #36: This is partly a case of mea culpa. While Zach Collier has tons of tools and will likely turn out to be a strong player, we were a little ahead of ourselves in pushing him as high at number 15 on last year's list, so this is more of a correction - as they say in the stocks world - than a loss. Collier was challenged by starting the season at Lakewood after playing in the Gulf Coast League in 2008 coming out of high school. After a shaky first month, Collier picked up the pace in May, but his season fell apart after that. He also wasn't the same player when he returned to the short-season ranks at Williamsport and struggled to hit there, as well. You have to hope that the early promotion to the full-season leagues didn't damage his approach to the game as it can with some young players.

Category Zach Collier South Atlantic League
PA/2B 20.4 22.2
PB/3B 46.6 148.0
PA/HR - 70.5
PA/RBI 10.2 12.6
PA/R 8.2 8.6
PA/BB 14.2 12.6
PA/KO 4.1 4.8
AVG .218 .254
OBP .275 .324
SLG .319 .368
Categories with numbers in white show areas where the player outperformed the average player in the their league during the 2009 season. Categories with numbers in black show areas where he was below the league average.

Batting and Power: The reports on Collier's offense coming out of high school were that he was advanced at the plate for his age and he seemed to move through his debut season without much difficulty offensively. As he faced the more polished pitchers at Lakewood, his lack of experience was somewhat exposed; odds are that he just can't move quite as fast as the Phillies were hoping and he's going to need a lot more at-bats before he can move at a faster pace. Collier has a short, compact swing and is willing to just hit the ball where it's pitched rather than trying to do too much at the plate. He has shown no power in the minors, but the hope is that he'll develop into at least an average power-hitter and be able to maintain a healthy average at the plate. 

Baserunning and Speed: Collier can run pretty well and showed a lot of progress in learning to steal bases last season, swiping a total of 20 bags in his stops at Lakewood and Williamsport, with a 74% success rate, which is an acceptable level for a young player. As a baserunner, Collier has good instincts on when to take an extra base and rarely makes a mistake.

Defense: While it's most likely that Collier will play one of the corner outfield positions, he can and has played all three outfield positions. He shows decent range and is an above-average fielder. His ability to throw out runners from the outfield is progressing and with some work on the mechanics of throwing from the outfield, his slightly above-average arm could play a little better than that in the future.

Projection: So, where does Collier start in 2010? That's likely going to be determined by how he plays this spring, but it's not out of the question for him to again be at Lakewood, trying to conquer the South Atlantic League. After all, with a natural progression, that's where he would be starting this season, so it would simply put him back on course if he were to start out as a BlueClaw. If the Phillies do hold him back though, it's not the end of Zach Collier. Remember, this is a somewhat raw, high school kid who is going to need a lot of work and a lot of at-bats to close up some of those holes in his game. When you compare Collier's peripheral stats with those of the average player in the South Atlantic League, the gap isn't as wide as it first appears when you first look at the numbers, which gives a lot of hope that Collier could adapt to the SAL with another shot.

Comparison: You can see shades of Shane Victorino is Zach Collier, especially when it comes to how hard he works and how well he soaks up instruction from coaches. If all goes well, he could wind up having the same type of career that Victorino is having, although he may wind up sticking to one of the corner outfield spots.

Zach Collier's career stats

2008 GCL 37 129 15 35 9 1 0 19 5 0 17 28 .271
2009 Williamsport 34 137 21 31 10 1 1 13 7 0 9 42 .2262
2009 Lakewood 82 298 40 65 16 7 0 32 13 7 23 80 .218
2009 Combined stats 116 435 61 96 26 8 1 45 20 7 32 122 .221
Minor League Totals 153 564 76 131 35 9 1 64 25 7 49 150 .232

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