The Detroit Tigers selected Tyler Collins in the 6th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Howard Junior College (Texas). Collins signed with the Tigers, passing up a commitment to TCU, for a reported $210,000.
Originally a Baylor Bear, Collins transferred to Howard Junior College after he was ruled academically ineligible. Last season Collins posted an eye-popping .488 average with 34 doubles, 4 triples, 19 home runs and 82 RBI in just 215 at-bats. His 33 walks helped him post an incredible .561 on-base percentage. He also chipped in with 16 steals.
After signing, Collins spent one game in the GCL before he was assigned to short season Connecticut. Collins was one of the most productive bats for the Tigers last season in short-season ball. Despite only playing 42 games, he lead the team in home runs and produced the second highest total of doubles and RBI.
This winter, Collins accepted an assignment in the Australian Baseball League. Collins posted an impressive .298 batting average and a .366 on-base-percentage over 168 at-bats. The 21-year-old, left-handed batter also hit 14 doubles, 2 triples and 3 home runs. Collins performance earned him an All-Star nod, representing the World All-Stars. He finished the day 2-5 with a three-run home run; taking home the All-Star Game MVP Award.
Earlier this year we tabbed Collins 9th best on our 2012 MCB Top 50 Tigers Prospect list.
This week Tyler was kind enough to check in with us to answer some questions.
Follow the jump for the Q&A…
MCB: At what point in your life do you remember deciding that professional baseball was something that you wanted to pursue?
Tyler Collins: Ever since I could remember I wanted to play professional baseball. I didn’t realize what it took until after my first year in college though.
MCB: Who has had the biggest influence on your baseball career?
TC: Definitely my parents. They taught me how to play, funded and supported my career. My dad, to this day still throws to me in the cages when I am at home.
MCB: What was draft day like for you?
TC: It was the day after my birthday, so I was already on an emotional high. As far as the actual day, I couldn’t have been more excited and surprised. The Tigers didn’t call me prior to my selection, so as I watched the draft tracker and heard my name, I was completely surprised.
MCB: You were committed to TCU; how hard of a decision was it for you to sign with the Tigers?
TC: Incredibly hard. TCU has an outstanding program and a wonderful coaching staff, but after a lot of thinking I decided that it was time for me to start my pro-ball career.
MCB: You took home quite a bit of hardware last season. You received an All-American nod, NJCAA Division I Player of the Year award, Rawlings Gold Glove award and the Southwest District Rawlings Big Stick award. Which award(s) were you most proud of?
TC: Probably the player of the year. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, so when I won that award I felt like it was the whole team winning it. The guys ahead of me in the lineup and behind me in the lineup did everything possible to give the team a chance to succeed and I just went up there and did what I love to do.
MCB: You’ve done a great job tormenting hitters at every level. What’s been the biggest difference between the JUCO, NCAA, Pro and Australian pitchers that you’ve faced?
TC: College ball has a lot of pride and a lot of emotion on the field. Professional baseball has that professional aspect about it, and playing so many games you learn to go about your business as an every day job. I do enjoy it more though, because I do get to play every day, and when that tight game ends in a walk off base hit, nothing feels better.
MCB: Speaking of Australia, how was your time there? I’m sure you were pretty busy on the diamond, but did you have any time to travel around and go sightseeing?
TC: I had an absolute blast in Australia. The guys there were great, the quality of ball was good, and the country itself is beautiful. You play in every major city, so you get to see all of the country and experience every aspect. Plus, they have beautiful beaches and cool animals!
MCB: You’ve put up video game numbers at every stop. Unless I missed something, it appears that you haven’t really had to deal with failure on the diamond. Struggles are inevitable in the game of baseball though. How do you intend on approaching struggles down the road?
TC: Everyone does struggle, but I try to keep my struggles small as best as I can. If I do start to struggle, I immediately start making adjustments until I feel good again. Stay in the cage and do everything I can to control what I can.
MCB: What part of your game, specifically, are you looking to improve on this year?
TC: I have great coaches in the Tigers system. They are just helping educate me so that I can slow the game down and learn it at the next level, and then the next, fundamentally and mentally.
MCB: What personals goals do you have for this upcoming season?
TC: Win as many games as we can. Plain and simple. whatever level I am at, I want to win!
MCB: Switching gears a bit, I have some non-baseball questions from our readers. What are some of the things away from the game that you like to do for fun?
TC: I love fishing. My grandfather put that trait into me. I enjoy bird hunting and skeet shooting as well. I also am pretty good at bowling!
MCB: Who were some of your favorite baseball players growing up? Did you model your game after any of them?
TC: I love the guys that take big swings. Ken Griffy Jr. and Pudge Rodriguez off the top of my head.
MCB: Outside of baseball do you follow any sports?
TC: College football obviously [laughs]! I also enjoy soccer and after I got home from Australia, I like cricket too.
MCB: What are five songs or albums that you’re currently listening to on your iPod?
TC: Casey Donnahew Band, Randy Rogers Band, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Corey Smith, and just to mix it up Calvin Harris
MCB: Have you decided what walk up songs you’ll use for this upcoming season yet?
TC: I don’t want to ruin the surprise! Probably something upbeat.
MCB: What’s your all-time favorite baseball movie?
TC: Field of Dreams
A special thanks goes out to Tyler Collins for taking the time out of his day to answer our questions.
For more MCB interviews with Detroit Tigers Prospects, click here.