College Baseball Countdown: 72 Days to Go- Zack Collins

Zack-CollinsTo get caught up on our college baseball countdown, head to our index page here. Two seasons ago, as a freshman, Zack Collins burst onto the scene in Coral Gables and announced his arrival as a superstar. All he did in his debut season was hit .298/.427/.556 with 14 doubles, 11 homers, and 54 RBI. At the end of the season, he was named the ACC Freshman of the Year and Baseball America’s National Freshman of the Year.

For a Hurricanes’ offense that had been starved for power bats in previous seasons, saying Collins was a welcome addition would be a massive understatement.

That type of performance is tough to improve upon, but Collins did so as a sophomore in 2015. As part of a suddenly stout Miami offensive attack, he hit .302/.445/.587 with 14 doubles, 5 triples, 15 home runs, and 70 RBI. Combined with David Thompson, Collins was part of perhaps the most fearsome power hitting duo in the entire country.

If we’re going to nitpick on anything with Collins it’s that he could stand to cut down on his strikeouts. Last season, he had a team-leading 64 of them, which was 19 more than the next-highest total on the team (and 17 more than he had as a freshman). Part of that is Collins’s aggressive approach at the plate, and surely head coach Jim Morris and staff don’t want him to lose that edge, but another year of maturation as a hitter certainly will help further improve his approach.

Expecting another step forward for Collins in 2016 would be unfair, given that there are few players who had better 2015 seasons, but the Hurricanes are going to need another big season out of Collins if they are to make a return to Omaha in the 2016 postseason.

The aforementioned Thompson (who led Division I baseball with 90 RBI in 2015) is now in pro ball, as is George Iskenderian, who hit a team-leading .364 and flashed an impressive power/speed combination with 15 doubles and 23 stolen bases.

Characterizing Collins as the only returning quality hitter would be unfair as well, however. Fellow junior Willie Abreu (.288/6/47) has been a solid contributor along with Collins from the day he stepped foot on campus and Jacob Heyward (.327/.440/.473) showed promise in a part-time role last season. Carl Chester had an up-and-down freshman season after arriving as a heralded recruit, but he has immense potential and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him step into a starring role come next season.

No matter how things shake out around him in the lineup, we can be almost assured that Zack Collins will reprise his role as one of the most feared hitters in both the ACC and the entire country at large.

About the Author

Joseph Healy
Growing up in Houston, Joe Healy was introduced to college baseball at a young age, and it was love at first sight. Like most good love stories, that love has only grown throughout the years. When he's not at the ballpark, he enjoys tacos, college football during the fall, and the spectacle that is American politics. He holds a B.A. in political science from Sam Houston State University and a Master's in Public Administration from Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville.