Canes slugger Zack Collins talks making Team USA, becoming sixth player in UM history to be named Baseball America's Freshman of the Year
Monday turned out to be a pretty special day for Hurricanes slugger Zack Collins.
First he was one of 24 players selected to the USA's National Collegiate Team. Then, he became the sixth player in Hurricanes history to be named National Freshman of the Year by Baseball America.
"Starting off a Monday like this is always good," said Collins, who spoke with The Miami Herald by phone Monday afternoon.
Which achievement ranks higher?
"That's hard to say, but I would have to say making the national team," Collins said. "Before I came up here [to Cary, N.C. for tryouts] I told a couple friends that it's just an awesome feeling when you put on this jersey. It's kind of weird how when you put it on it gives you this electric feeling."
Collins, a Pembroke Pines native who starred at Plantation American Heritage High School, has chalked up plenty of accolades this summer. He was named 2014 Freshman Hitter of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers’ Association (NCBWA), 2014 ACC Freshman of the Year, and pulled in Freshman All-America honors on three teams. Collins (.298, team-leading 11 homers, 54 RBI) and freshman right-handed pitcher Brian Garcia (7-4, 1.75 ERA, 15 saves) both earned Baseball America Freshman All-American First Team honors on Monday.
Collins, though, is the first Hurricane to win the Freshman Player of the Year award since Chris Hernandez in 2008. Past Hurricane winners include Alex Fernandez (1989), Pat Burrell (1996), Kevin Howard (2000) and Ryan Braun (2003).
"That's a huge accomplishment. I never thought the way I started off my year it would have ended like this," Collins said. "It's just an amazing feeling for me knowing all the talent out there that I was named Freshman of the Year. I don't even know what to say."
Collins said he's looking forward to playing with Team USA this summer and making trips to Cuba and the Netherlands. He played on the 16-under National Team and won a gold medal in Mexico.
"It seemed like every time I was on the younger teams tryouts I was always looking up to the college team. And now I'm on it. It's just an awesome feeling," Collins said. " think I'm looking forward to going to Cuba the most because being from Miami there's a lot of people from Cuba and they always talk about how awesome it is over there. Just to go there and see the culture and where a lot of people come from in Miami is going to be pretty fun. I haven't really heard about any players in particular, but I know Cuba always has some tremendous players. Yasiel Puig once played for Cuba, Yoenis Cespdedes, all these guys played for their national team. It should be pretty fun."
Collins is also already looking forward to next season. He said losing to Texas Tech in the final game of the Coral Gables regional left him and his teammates quite hungry.
"I went to Miami to win a championship and that's pretty much the main goal for everybody on our team. We're definitely going to make it to Omaha next year," Collins said. "I think what we learned was how no matter what type of team you are in the regular season you have to be on your best once you make it to the playoffs. Because once you get there anybody you play is going to be really good."