UPDATE: It’s official, he made the team as one of four rookie relievers.
Tim Collins has become sort of a cult favorite among prospect buffs for his small stature and big strikeout totals.
He’s listed at 5-foot-7, might be an inch or two shorter than that, and struck out 108 batters in 71 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
And it wasn’t a fluke, as Collins also racked up 116 strikeouts in 77 innings in 2009 and 98 strikeouts in 68 innings in 2008. Add it all up and the 21-year-old left-hander has a remarkable 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings for his four-season pro career.
Whether or not his exceptional bat-missing ability will translate to the big leagues remains to be seen, but the Royals are apparently very close to giving him a chance to find out. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes that manager Ned Yost “wants to open the season with two lefty relievers” and “there is no obvious second choice to Collins.”
Reds reliever Danny Hererra is the only pitcher 5-foot-7 or shorter to throw at least 50 innings in a season in the past 10 years. In fact, during the past 35 years the only 5-foot-7 or shorter pitchers to log 50 innings in a season are Herrera, Bill Simas, and Richie Lewis. Collins has much better raw stuff than most diminutive pitchers, as his fastball typically clocks in around 93 miles per hour, and his minor-league numbers are so spectacular that it’d be tough for the rebuilding Royals not to give him a shot. Whether or not he’s ready to thrive at age 21 is another issue, but it’d be fun watching him either way.