White Sox minor-league catcher Seby Zavala is ready to answer the call-up

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This is a 2019 photo of Seby Zavala of the Chicago White Sox baseball team. This image reflects the 2019 active roster as of Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019, when this image was taken. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) ORG XMIT: AZDC1

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Seby Zavala wanted to join the Army when he got out of high school.

He even fancied the idea of becoming a Navy Seal.

“When I was young, my dad was in the Army, and I loved watching war movies,’’ Zavala said. “That’s what I wanted to do growing up. If my dad hadn’t told me to go to college, I’d be in the Army, 100 percent. I sat down with him and said, ‘I appreciate everything you have done for me, but this is the path I want to go.’ He was all about it, but he said, ‘Do college first, and you can do whatever you want after that.’ ’’

Zavala had played two years of baseball in high school in La Puente, California, but wasn’t drafted. He heeded the advice of his father, who is an FBI agent now, and attended San Diego State.

There, he turned into a prospect and was drafted by the Sox in the 12th round of the 2015 draft.

Father knows best.

“I said, ‘OK, dad, I guess I will play baseball through college,’ and look where I’m at now,’’ he said.

That would be one level away from the majors, although Zavala’s quest to show what he can do against big-league competition is being thwarted by a strained left quad.

Zavala came into camp about 8 pounds lighter — from working out and eating better in the offseason, he said — and got off to a nice start, going 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored in the Sox’ split-squad game against the Athletics last Saturday. But he hasn’t played since.

“It could be a week,” manager Rick Renteria said.

Zavala and Zack Collins, the Sox’ first-round draft choice in 2016, are the team’s future at catcher — Welington Castillo and James McCann might not be here after this season — and have worked in tandem at Class AA Birmingham and Class AAA Charlotte, where they expect to open the season while competing for a call-up.

“We expect the best from each other and try to make each other better,’’ Collins said. “At the same time, we’re competing for a job.

“We’ve gotten close, and he is a good buddy of mine. No matter how much competition, who makes it or who makes more money, it doesn’t matter.’’

As a No. 1 pick, Collins would seem to have an edge, but some scouts also view Zavala, a good hitter with pop in his bat and improving defensive skills, as a potential starter.

“There is always competition,’’ Zavala said. “But if I worry about Zack too much, and he worries about me, we will get outside ourselves and won’t perform our best.’’

And if competition pushes each of them, that can’t hurt.

“I don’t want anything given to me,” Collins said. “I want to earn everything I get.’’

NOTES: Dylan Cease, whose first start is not yet listed on the schedule, continues to be brought along slowly in advance of a targeted career high in innings. Cease pitched a career-high 123 innings between Class AA Birmingham and Class AAA Charlotte last season. He is slated for live batting practice Saturday morning, manager Rick Renteria said.

— Outfielder Daniel Palka (hamstring) ran at full speed on a treadmill and did some hitting. He should be back soon.

“We don’t want to rush it or it to become something that starts to become a chronic situation,” Renteria said.

— Baseball America ranked the Sox’ farm system sixth in its latest rankings. Here are its top 10 Sox prospects: 1. OF Eloy Jimenez, 2. RHP Michael Kopech, 3. RHP Cease, 4. 2B Nick Madrigal, 5. OF Luis Robert, 6. OF Micker Adolfo, 7. RHP Dane Dunning, 8. OF Blake Rutherford, 9. OF Luis Gonzalez, 10. OF Steele Walker.


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