The Tigers made it official on Saturday, purchasing the contract of Tyler Collins. Going into spring training Collins was not expected to have a chance at the 25 man roster. Andy Dirks' back injury opened up a spot for a left-handed hitting outfielder. Non-roster invitees Trevor Crowe and Ezequiel Carrera failed to impress, and Tyler Collins finds himself in the right place at the right time.
Ed.: All quoted segments in this article (like the one below) are from our prospect czar, Jordan Gorosh.
Throughout college and into the minors, all Collins has ever done is hit. However, I do have some concerns about his plate approach transferring to the major league level. He's not great in the field either. Overall, Collins is probably a good bench bat or an extra outfielder.
Tyler Collins was born in Lubbock, Texas and was drafted in the sixth round out of Howard College in Big Spring, Texas. With Austin Jackson from Denton, and Torii Hunter making a home in Prosper, this gives the Tigers an all-Texas outfield, and in geographic order.
It's easy to look at Tyler Collins' Double-A and Arizona Fall League numbers this year and get excited. He walks and had 50+ extra base hits. That's nice and all, but just another example where the stats don't tell the whole story. In reality, Collins was swinging and missing at a very high rate and was cheating on fastballs. He was struggling with pitch recognition. He was mistake hitting. That's fine against Double-A pitchers, and he had a good season. However, in the majors, they make far fewer mistakes and he is going to have to refine his approach in order to hit consistently at the highest level.
The last line is from the Arizona Fall League and was encouraging after a disappointing season at Double-A Erie. Collins easily surpassed Nick Castellanos' slash line of .242/.309/.333 with the Mesa Solar Sox. The prospect report dampens the enthusiasm.
As a rookie Collins will make the major league minimum of $500,000, if he survives the whole season. This is far better than the meager pay for a minor leaguer, which is the subject of the lawsuit Senne v. MLB.
Keys to Success
In the field, Collins is below average. I don't believe he has the instincts or arm to play every day in left field. The bat is certainly the carrying tool here.
Tyler will be in Detroit earlier than his planned development path. He needs to avoid feeling that he is in over his head. He will have in the back of his mind that he is expected to return to the minors soon, and could easily try to do too much.
.599: Collins' slugging percentage last year versus southpaws. It was .367 against right-handed pitching. He is expected to platoon with Rajai Davis, which means facing mainly righties. He also had a reverse platoon split in 2011, and it needs to reverse back.
3: The number of doubles, triples, and home runs Collins hit in spring training. Providing the occasional extra base hit will be enough as a gap-filler.
Collins will be in Detroit on Opening Day, but should expect to play most of the season in Toledo. I am not convinced he will even survive a week as teams set their final rosters and more players hit the waiver wire. I hear the Royals will try to sneak Carlos Peguero past when the Tigers are not looking.