Name: Zach Collier
DOB: 9/8/90 (20 as of April 1, 2011)
Weight: 185 lbs
Drafted: 1st (supp.) round, 2008 ($1,020,000 bonus)
Pre Draft Report: Zach Collier was selected with the 34th overall pick in the 2008 draft out of Chino Hills High School in suburban Los Angeles, where he was a teammate of Chris Parmelee, the 20th overall pick in the ’06 draft. Collier was a Baseball America 2nd Team High School All-American after his senior year during which he hit .450 with 7 HR and 12 SB. In addition to his performance, Collier’s high school career was marked by his open heart surgery to correct an anomalous left coronary artery that was pinched and caused him to collapse after a practice in 2006. Following his recovery from surgery, Collier struggled the regain his stroke until he began working with former major leaguer Chris Gwynn. Collier then shined in workouts in front of scouts at the Urban Youth Academy in Los Angeles and shot up the draft board.
Heading into the ’08 draft, Baseball America rated Collier as the 7th best prospect in California and the 22nd best prospect in the country. Its report noted above-average speed and projectable power, while also noting that as Collier matured physically, his average arm would make him more of a right fielder. It projected Collier going as high as the middle of the first round.
MILB.com also had a pre-draft report that is generally similar to BA’s report and summarized Collier as follows:
Collier began the year behind other California high school outfielders like Aaron Hicks and Anthony Gose. He closed the gap with some strong performances this spring, showing some big-time power in some big games. He’s still very raw, but with some more instruction, a whole lot could be unlocked.
The Phillies reportedly considered Collier with their first round pick before opting for Anthony Hewitt and were thrilled when Collier was still sitting on the board ten picks later. With no strong college commitment, Collier quickly signed for slot money and started his career in the Gulf Coast League.
Career Synopsis: Collier began his career in the GCL and fared well as a 17-year old, posting a .271/.347/.357 and striking out 28 times and walking 17 times in 150 plate appearances. He logged time at all three outfield positions (although he did play LF more than CF and RF combined). Following the season, he participated in the Florida Instructional League.
Heading into 2009, Collier was ranked as the Phillies #8 prospect by Baseball America. He was sent to Lakewood to begin the season and was one of the few prospects on that loaded roster not to take a step forward. He struggled to a .218/.275/.319 line, going homerless, and seeing his K/BB ratio balloon to 80/23 in 326 PAs. He was demoted to Williamsport where his struggles continued to the tune of .226/.280/.336 with 42 Ks and 9 BBs. Scouting reports pointed to a loss of the swing that got him drafted in the first place, along with the obvious lack of strike zone discipline. He again participated in the FIL following the season.
BA knocked Collier down to #30 on its ranking list for 2010. Collier’s 2010 was a total loss, as he had spring surgery on his hamate, then suffered a small tear in his hand while rehabbing and had additional surgery in June that cost him the season.
Scouting Report: Below is an assessment of Collier’s raw tools, rated on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale. The grades are my estimation based on what I’ve read and those I’ve talked to. The second number is a future projection, the first number is the current assessment
Hit For Average: 55
Hit For Power: 45
Throwing Arm: 55
Summary: Collier’s tools grades are based almost entirely on the potential he had coming out of high school, as he missed the entire 2010 season, a big year for him, and will look to get back on track in 2011. Hand injuries can lead to issues not only with power, but also with contact. Collier is an excellent athlete, and his fielding and speed grades might actually be on the low side. But he’s a total wildcard right now, and he needs 450-500 PA in 2011 in the worst way.
Upside: Collier was part of a trio of tools-laden outfielders that the Phillies selected with their first three picks in the 2008 draft. While Anthony Gose has been traded (twice) and is generally regarded as a rising prospect and hope is fading for Anthony Hewitt to even reach Reading, Collier is much tougher to place a label on. While his first full season performance combined with a lost season due to injury has clearly taken the bloom off his prospect rose, Collier is still just 20 years old and at the time he was drafted, seemed to have a more advanced hitting approach than most of the Phillies recent draft picks of similar ilk. Based on what he’s shown to date, it’s tough to see Collier ever being more than a 4th or 5th outfielder (and only if everything breaks right for him). But if he’s able to come back from the lost season, rediscover his swing, and show some of the power that was projected, Collier could be more than that. He’ll try to figure out all those ifs in Lakewood in 2011.
Updated: 06 March 2011