KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 20: Pitcher Tim Collins #55 of the Kansas City Royals in action during the game against the Cleveland Indians on April 20, 2011 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
5'7" pitchers are practically a historic longshot, and Tim Collins has overcome those odds to become a core member of the Kansas City Royals bullpen.
Coming out of Worcester Tech High School in Massachusetts and being all of 5'7" (and even that may be a stretch), Royals pitcher Tim Collins didn't have the luxury of knowing he was going to be drafted or even the benefit of having many college come knock on his door during recruiting. But he knew he had something to offer, he just needed someone to give him the chance.
Collins was set to attend the Community College of Rhode Island until one day he happened to catch his break. Former Toronto Blue Jays General Manager J.P. Ricciardi is also a Worcester native and happened to take in the local American Legion game one day, a day in which Tim Collins was on the mound, striking out 12 batters in four innings of relief. Ricciardi was ready to give Collins $10,000 and his chance at professional baseball.
Most scouts would probably get laughed at for recommending someone with the appearance of the young Collins, but being the general manager Ricciardi had no need to defend his newest signing. Even after arriving at spring training, new teammates thought he was either someone's kid or the bat boy. It all changed when more people saw him pitch, notably his fastball and curveball.
2008 was Collins' first full season in the pros, pitching for the Class A Lansing Lugnuts, where he was 4-2 with a 1.58 ERA, and 14 saves in 49 games. He continued the show promise the next season, finishing with a 9-7 record and 2.91 ERA between Class A and AA. Collins was starting to make a name for himself, and his curveball was ranked the best in the Blue Jays system by Baseball America.
Moving ahead to 2010, Collins was first traded to the Atlanta Braves and then 17 days later traded again to the Royals along with Jesse Chavez, for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth. All Collins did was continue to get batters out, as he made his AAA debut after the trade, compiling a 2-1 record with a 1.33 ERA in 15 games for Omaha. For his minor league career he struck out 329 batters in just 223 innings.
"He's got a little funk to him"
Currently the fourth youngest player in the American League, Collins has pitched in the most games in baseball so far, totaling 26 appearances. He is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings pitched. Most pitchers aren't in the majors by age 21, and those are ones who were drafted high. Who knows what the future holds for Collins, but as you can see all he has done to this point is prove doubters wrong at every level. With any hope, he'll continue to prove everyone wrong and be the reliable lefty in a young and impressive bullpen for the near future.