GLENDALE, Ariz. – While 2016 first-round draft choice Zack Collins holds his rank as White Sox catcher of the future, keep an eye on Seby Zavala.
Zavala, a 12th-round pick out of San Diego State in 2015, took a significant step in 2017, leading all Sox minor leaguers with 21 homers and, and after a mid-season promotion from Class A Kannapolis to high Class A Winston Salem, slashed .302/.376/.485.
He followed that up with another good showing in the Arizona Fall League and earned an invitation to his first major league camp.
“I’m liking the way everything is going,’’ Zavala said on the first day. “I’m excited.’’
The casual fan may not have heard much about Zavala, what with high-profile prospects Eloy Jimenez, Michael Kopech, Luis Robert, Alec Hansen and Collins, among others, getting most of the notice.
But the Sox like the way the 5-11, 205-pound Zavala uses the whole field, and of course his power. At Kannapolis in 2016, he batted .259 with seven homers, but last season “some things clicked offensively,’’ he said.
“I changed my hand position [which improved his launch angle], looking to get more consistent power. And I was able to shorten up my slumps a little bit.’’
General manager Rick Hahn has mentioned Zavala, who ranks 29th on Baseball America’s top 30 White Sox list (Collins is No. 6), as one who could push his way to “catcher of the future” status.
But there are more levels to climb, and more work to be done.
“I have to improve on blocking, get that more consistent,’’ Zavala said. “And maybe pitch calling. Receiving, working with pitchers I think I have that down.
“Framing, I think it kind of comes naturally to me and I consider it one of my strong points but I need to keep working on that, obviously.’’