Detroit Tigers outfield prospect Tyler Collins had a great spring debut Friday, hitting a double and triple and impressing defensively. He won't make the major league roster and is ticketed for Double-A to open the campaign, but this is a guy with "underrated" written all over him. First, the background from the 2013 Baseball Prospect Book.
Tyler Collins, OF, Detroit Tigers
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 5-11 WT: 205 DOB: June 6, 1990
2012: Grade B-
A sixth-round pick in 2011 from Howard Junior College, Collins has been quite successful as a pro, showing a refined hitting approach, good plate discipline, gap power, basestealing ability, and superior makeup. He hit .290/.371/.429 with 58 walks and 64 strikeouts, with 20 steals, in 473 at-bats for High-A Lakeland in 2012. He is a bit of a tweener: he doesn't field quite well enough to handle center, but his home run power might be inadequate for a corner regular.
That said, I like him. I'm especially impressed with the low strikeout rate, and he has enough physical strength that a home run spike is possible as he moves up. One negative is his platoon split. He beat up right-handed pitching at a .305/.381/.460 clip, but lefties kept him restricted to a .259/.352/.367 line. He profiles best as a fourth outfielder/platoon player, but I think he can be a really good one. In a perfect world, if Collins solves lefties and boosts his power a bit, he could turn into a poor man's Nick Markakis. Markakis is a better athlete, but their slash lines could be similar if Collins maxes out his tools and skills. Grade B-.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: First, a word about comps.
In my mind, there are two kinds of comps: physical comps and performance comps. The two things can be related but are not quite the same thing, so it is important to specify in order to avoid confusion. When coming up with comps for young players, scouts are usually making physical comps.
My thinking here was that Collins could eventually produce Markakis-like numbers if all goes well. In this case, by saying that Collins is comparable to Markakis, I was making a performance comp and was NOT trying to say they are similar physically. Markakis is taller and not as stocky as Collins.
As a physical specimen, Collins looks more like Jason Kubel, to steal Baseball America's comp for him. That said, I don't think Collins will produce as much raw power as Kubel, and I don't think he will strike out as much as Kubel.
BA's Kubel comp might make you think Collins will be a 30-homer guy with strikeout issues, which I don't see. But my Markakis comp might make you think that Collins is taller and less stocky than he really is. Both comps could be misleading.
In any event, I like Collins and think he has a good chance to be a productive player. That low strikeout rate combined with patience and present gap power stands out as a positive marker for me. His makeup is also considered a plus. He could have a big breakthrough in 2013.