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Thursday, August 20, 2009
Jays prospect still beating odds

Will Hill writes about the most intriguing prospect in the minor leagues: Actually, that sign says something more along the lines of this: "You must throw at least 90 miles per hour to go on this ride. Thanks for your interest, but candidates without great fastballs need not apply."

There are exceptions, of course. But most of the pitchers who get drafted can either throw in the low 90s or are, in the parlance, "projectable." Which essentially means that a scout can look at the kid and dream a little.

When scouts looked at Collins in high school, what might they have dreamed? That he would someday be taller than Freddie Patek?

Last winter, Baseball America listed Collins as the Blue Jays' No. 30 prospect. A snippet from their report:

So, Collins is (or was then) a Class-A relief pitcher. He wasn't drafted. His fastball tops out at 90. Even if we didn't know that he's 5-foot-5 and weighs 155 pounds, we wouldn't think a great deal about his long-term future as a professional baseball player.

Ah, but except for all those strikeouts. Collins has, in his professional career, struck out 13 batters per nine innings. And as he's moved up the organizational ladder, his strikeout rate has gone up rather than down. He's just been promoted to the Double-A Eastern League. He doesn't turn 20 until next week, and must be one of the youngest players in that league.

I wouldn't bet on him to someday become a premier reliever in the major leagues. But I wouldn't bet against him getting there, either.