When will White Sox Collins be MLB ready?

Catching prospect will get experience in Arizona Fall League

When will White Sox Collins be MLB ready?

KANSAS CITY -- Zack Collins' first year in professional baseball continues through a short stint at the upcoming White Sox Instructional League in Arizona and then by being part of Glendale's taxi squad in the Arizona Fall League.

As Chicago's top pick in the 2016 Draft continues to develop behind the plate, fans continue to wonder when Collins will be ready to help at the big league level. The White Sox almost certainly will be pursuing a catcher during the offseason, but Collins remains firmly in their plans and his growth potential could have some influence on their veteran targets.

White Sox director of player development Nick Capra, who is with the team in Kansas City, can't put a specific arrival time for the team's second-ranked prospect by MLBPipeline.com so early in his process.

"I think he's got a ways to go defensively, behind the plate," Capra said. "A big part of catching is obviously learning the pitchers, learning their strengths and weaknesses, learn how to call games.

"That's all experience he's going to need to gain and gather. Offensively it looks like his bat is going to play. He's got a couple of things to work on offensively. It's hard to say. I couldn't really put a time on him now because I haven't seen him enough."

Collins, 21, batted .244 with six homers and 18 RBIs this season during stops with the Rookie League team and Class A Advanced Winston-Salem. The left-handed hitter from Miami drew 33 walks and struck out 46 times, while posting an .831 OPS.

Instructional League action begins on Monday, with 50 White Sox players arriving at Camelback Ranch. Collins won't be in town until somewhere around Sept. 28, but he definitely will benefit from this Arizona stint and playing Wednesdays and Saturdays in the AFL.

"It's going to put him in an environment where he's around guys that have played a little more, experienced older guys," Capra said. "That's going to be a factor for him just to be around the group of kids he's going to be around because they're all obviously talented kids.

"Interacting with those guys is going to help. It's going to help him on the days he's not playing, catching bullpens --- [Minor League catching coordinator] Johnny Orton will be out there working with him catching-wise. He's going to be benefit a lot from this."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.