Collins was a sixth round pick of the Tigers last month on heels of a whopping season at Howard Junior College (Texas). The sophomore outfielder crushed the opposition en route to the NJCAA Division I Player of the Year award.
For the year, Collins hit .488 with 105 hits, including 19 doubles and 34 doubles. His batting average was good for second in the nation, while his home runs paced the NJCAA level. His doubles total set a school record at HJC. To cap it all off, Collins posted 16 steals as well.
In addition to his player of the year honors, Collins picked up an All-American nod, as well as the Rawlings Gold Glove award and the Southwest District Rawlings Big Stick honor.
Prior to raking for Howard JC, Collins hit .404 in 29 games as a freshman at Baylor University. Though he didn't play a ton, he still hit seven doubles and one triple while walking more than he struck out.
After what looked like a dynamic start to his offensive career, Collins was declared academically ineligible at Baylor, and was forced to move on to Howard JC for the 2011 season.
Scouts that saw Collins frequently last spring love his offensive potential and have tossed around some lofty comparisons, including numerous scouts pegging him with a Brian Giles comp for his build and offensive approach.
Like many athletes of his caliber, Collins is a highly competitive individual that is still learning to deal with failure in a better manner. He has gotten better about not getting so down on himself, and he will have to continue that trend as he enters pro ball and the inevitable struggles that can be part of that process.
Despite his explosive game, Collins does not look the part of the classic big-bodied offensive dynamo. At just under six feet tall, he does get knocked at times for his size, and is build more like a fullback than an outfielder. He has premium athleticism in his muscular body that one scout called "very well put together."
Collins generates plus-plus bat speed from the left side, with a very simple swing that is short to the ball to can drive the ball to fall fields with ease. Like many young hitters, he can get infatuated with pulling the ball, but has the baseball acumen to recognize and correct the issue on his own.
His bat speed helps him generate easy line drive power and he has developed some ability to elevate the ball and drive it out of the park. For all his power, he makes routine contact and can shorten up and drive base hits. He has hit left-handed pitchers well throughout his career, and scouts believe his simple swing should help him avoid significant platoon splits.
His approach at the plate may be one of his best attributes, showing an excellent eye and a keen knowledge of the strike zone. He picks up pitcher tendencies quickly and will head into an at-bat with a clear plan and a willingness to wait out the pitcher.
Collins has played primarily left field as a collegian, and his coaches insist that left field is the most demanding of the outfield positions at their home park. He has worked out in both center field and right field, but most scouts project him as a left fielder down the line, as his arm is his weakest tool, and while his defense has improved since high school, he is still only fringe-average on that side of the ball.
Collins is an above-average runner that will show some plus times in workouts. He gets out of the box pretty well and can get down the line quick enough to keep infielders honest. Most scouts believe he will slow down some as he matures, and could end up a below-average runner.
Collins is definitely a bat-first prospect. He has the potential to hit for average and power, and get on base via the walk on a regular basis. He could be a solid regular in left field if the full offensive profile comes to fruition.
Collins has not had any major injuries in recent years. He has developed into a workout warrior since heading off to college and he maintains his physical strength and conditioning exceptionally well.
Collins just signed with the Tigers for an over-slot bonus of $210,000 in the sixth round, forgoing his commitment to TCU for his final two years of eligibility. At present, with numerous high-dollar picks remaining to sign in the sixth round, Collins has the second highest bonus in the round.
The Tigers have not finalized where he will debut as a professional, but he has been playing this summer and won't need much tune-up time once they are ready to get him into game action. He could see a few games in the short-season leagues, but his offensive profile gives him the ability to head straight to an A-ball club in either West Michigan or Lakeland.
Either way, Collins should see Lakeland by the end of the 2012 season, assuming he hits anywhere close to expectations. If the bat plays right out of the gate, he could be on a 2014 timetable to Detroit.
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