Nov. 18, 2015
WASHINGTON - For former Georgetown baseball player Nick Collins, the past eight months have been quite a whirlwind. The left-handed hitter completed his junior season for the Hoyas, was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft and was named a starter in the all-star game in his first professional season.
The year for Collins started in February when the Georgetown baseball team began its 2015 campaign. The Hoyas had one of the most memorable seasons in program history, winning 25 games and qualifying for the BIG EAST Championships for the first time since 1986.
"It was really cool," Collins said. "Just the fact that we were able to make the tournament for the first time in 30 years was pretty awesome in itself. It was the start of a new era for the program. We are moving forward and bigger things are coming out of Georgetown baseball."
A large part of Georgetown's success was behind the play of Collins, who started all 53 games as either the team's catcher or designated hitter. He finished the season with a .370 batting average, 78 hits and 36 RBI. Collins led the entire conference with seven home runs, 114 total bases and a .540 slugging percentage and was among the leaders in RBI, on-base percentage, doubles and runs scored. Due to his offensive output, Collins was named the 2015 BIG EAST Player of the Year, the first time a Georgetown player has earned the accolade.
Collins, who had been on many major league draft boards since playing in the Cape Cod League the previous summer, only helped his draft stock with his successful spring. Oakland selected Collins in the eighth round of June's draft, making him the third-highest draft in Georgetown's history.
"It was a huge relief," Collins recalled. "Obviously you don't want to be thinking about the draft during the spring when you are playing, but it is always going to be in the back of your mind. It is just human nature. When I finally got the call, it was just a weight lifted off my chest. You can breathe a little bit and celebrate with your family."
The first stop of Collins' professional career took him to Mesa, Arizona and Oakland's Rookie League team. He was promoted to the Vermont Lake Monsters of the New York-Penn League (NYPL) after just four games, playing his first game on July 1. Collins got off to a fast start, picking up five hits his first three games, including a three-hit, three-run performance on July 4. Collins, who batted anywhere from fourth to eighth in Vermont's lineup, found his power stroke in early August. He hit a pair of three-run home runs in a span of three games and totaled nine RBI over his final 12 games.
"It went really well. It is a different ballgame when you go from college, playing three games on the weekend and one or two during the week, to playing a game every day with an off day every three weeks. The biggest difference was the grind, as they say, with just getting your body physically ready and mentally ready to play every day."
His numbers were so good that Collins was named the starting catcher for the North Division in the NYPL All-Star Game, played on August 18 in Aberdeen, Maryland. Collins caught four innings, batted fourth in the lineup and went 1-for-3 with a single and a run scored in the first inning as the North won, 4-2.
"The all-star game was really cool. Getting to go with my teammate from Vermont, we were able to do some stuff while we were down there. It was a great experience getting to meet a bunch of guys from a bunch of different backgrounds and just building a bond with a whole new group of players."
What also made Collins' all-star experience more memorable was that he got to see Georgetown Head Coach Pete Wilk, who made the short trip from D.C. to see Collins play.
"It was really good seeing Coach Wilk," Collins said. "When he first saw me, all the players were sitting in a line signing autographs. First thing he said was 'I never thought I'd have to wait in line to say hi to you'. It was really cool to have him watch me play in my first pro season, with all that he had done for me in the three years I was at Georgetown.
"Coach Wilk's support meant the world to me. He has just been there for me every step of the way. If I had an issue, he was there to talk to one-on-one. He is easy to approach and has been supportive the whole time. This year, leading up to the draft, not one time did he ever try to talk me into coming back. He said that if the offer was right, he wanted me to go."
Collins finished the season batting .256 (30-for-117) with two home runs, two doubles and 15 RBI in 34 games for the Lake Monsters. Unfortunately, his season was cut short due to a concussion when a bat slipped out of a hitter's hands on August 21, striking him in the side of the head. He missed the final 16 games of the regular season and Oakland held him out of its fall instructional league as a precaution. However, Collins is using this extra time to get prepared for next season and his first spring training.
"I know that the first offseason is the biggest offseason and you have to take advantage of it. When my season got cut short at the end of the year and Oakland wanted me to take off instructional league, I knew that I could use that time to get a head start on my training. I am working on getting healthy and getting stronger by working on my flexibility training and eating right. This is the best I've felt in a long time, as far as physically. Hopefully, this coming spring, it will pay off and I can open some eyes.
"I think I made a pretty good impression on the organization. They were impressed at where my game was. That being said, there is always room for improvement and getting better."