If all goes to plan, American Heritage catcher Zack Collins will be batting third in the major leagues.
How long it takes for him to reach that spot is anyone's guess, but on Thursday, with the start of the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Collins will no longer have to guess where it'll happen.
Collins is expected to be the first South Florida prospect taken in the draft, which has a new format this year. The first and second rounds, where Collins is expected to be picked, will be held Thursday (MLB Network, 7 p.m.), with the remaining 38 rounds to be completed on Friday and Saturday.
While Collins is eager to join any team, where he's drafted will decide if he starts playing professionally this summer.
Collins has signed a letter-of-intent with Miami, and he said if he's not selected in the first three rounds of the draft, he'll play in Coral Gables for the next three years.
Collins can only sit and wait to find out what his future holds, but one thing is certain — the forecast is bright.
It was Collins' left-handed hitting that first caught pro scouts' attention. There's nothing complicated about his swing. His body is calm, though the impact he puts on the ball is quite violent.
Collins has heard plenty of comparisons from those scouts. Maybe he's the next Mark Teixeira or Matt Wieters. Then again, that swing, with the power it dishes out and the little hitch that starts it off, looks awfully similar to Josh Hamilton's.
What can't be debated are the results of that swing. Collins was the MVP of the 2011 IBAF World Youth (16-and-under) Championships, leading Team USA to a gold medal, and he hit .388, with 31 RBI and five homers his senior year at Heritage, earning Sun Sentinel All-County First-Team honors for a second straight year.
Collins' bat can be a valuable asset to pro teams, but the biggest question surrounding the 18-year-old is where he'll play in the field. There are only a handful of catchers in the big leagues that resemble Collins, who is 6 feet 3 and 220 pounds, and his size made some pro teams project him as a first baseman.
But Collins didn't accept that. He wants to play catcher full-time, so he worked with former UM and current San Diego Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal to improve his defense behind the plate.
According to Collins, his defense is "a million times better now," and he's convinced a number of scouts that he's not a defensive liability.
"I've only been playing catcher for four years," Collins said. "Most guys have been back there their entire life. If I can improve that much over the last year, I think that says a lot about what I can do."
Collins isn't the only South Florida player expected to be drafted over the next three days. Nova Southeastern infielder Carlos Asuaje could be a second-day pick, along with Elev8 Sports Institute-Delray players Stephen Alemais and Ron Healy.
Other South Florida players should expect to hear their names called as well. Coral Springs shortstop Luis Guillorme, West Boca catcher Michael Barash, Palm Beach Central third baseman Ian Hagenmiller and two of Collins' Heritage teammates, C.J. Chatham and Shaun Anderson, should all be drafted.
South Florida's Division I baseball programs could have up to a dozen players drafted. Miami's Javi Salas, Dale Carey, Bryan Radziewski and Chantz Mack are all projected by experts to be selected. FAU could have as many as five players drafted, and FIU pitcher Tyler Alexander is a mid-round lock.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun