For those relied upon to do so, the ability to accurately project talent in the amateur baseball world is one that comes with time, a seemingly impossible task to look into the future that many try to do, but few, if any, have actually mastered.
Some of what’s in front of you, however, is so obvious, it’s impossible to get it wrong.
Cam Collier is one of those guys.
First-round talent. Big leaguer.
It’s easy, obvious to even the most untrained eye, to see that the future will be an incredibly bright one for the son of former major-leaguer Lou Collier. It’s also a future that has been accelerated after a much-discussed decision for the former 2023 grad class member to reclassify to a 2022, foregoing the junior and senior years of his high school eligibility to enroll in Chipola Junior College in preparation for a possible selection in the 2022 MLB Draft.
“We went this route of going to Juco, and a lot went into it,” Collier said. “At first, we thought about doing it for my senior year, but we just kept talking, and we felt that me going JUCO would be the best for me and my career. It kept getting thought (out), and once I agreed to it, it happened.”
Still only 17 years old, Collier will be facing competition much older and much more physically developed than he currently is, although a lot of that isn’t new for him. He made his debut at the Future Stars Series International Week event at just 15, and says that his time of coming up through travel ball and at FSS events will help him make what’s going to have to be a quick transition to this level of play.
“It’s for sure prepared me for all of this, because at all of those events, I was facing the top arms,” he said. “Those top arms, some guys were draft picks. Some of those guys I’m facing, won’t be much better than the guys I faced, because they’re top level arms. Really, going to those events got me ready for the JUCO experience.”
Collier, of course, will not be at the junior college level forever. Not with the 2022 MLB Draft approaching, where he’s considered to be a potential first-round pick. All options are seemingly on the table, however.
“I’m just thinking about if my team, we can make it to Grand Junction (Colorado) first, try to win a Junior College World Series,” he said. “Wherever that takes me, whether it’s another year at Chipola, or at a four-year (college) or possibly the draft, really it’s all up in the air. But, getting drafted is my dream and it’s something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. Of course I’ll be thinking about that. But right now, my main focus is Grand Junction.”
The thought of teams essentially lining up to throw potentially seven-figure signing bonuses at him once the Draft rolls around must be a tantalizing thought for a young man who hasn’t even turned 18 yet, but Collier is showing maturity well beyond his years in staying focused on the immediate task ahead despite all of the distractions.
“It’s not that hard,” he said. “I look at it, I listen to it, but I don’t focus on it because it’s so far away and I’ve got other stuff to focus on. It really doesn’t affect how I go a day in my life.”
Collier pieced together some very, very meaningful days over the past two years at Future Stars Series events — he attended the National Combine in 2020 and 2021, International Week in 2020 and the Main Event in 2021 — attracting significant attention from the scouts and major-league executives with huge performances in each, notably hitting three homers over the two National Combines, with the initial performance in that event good enough to get him invited to Boston.
“Especially my first time at Fenway, that was an amazing experience being able to play there,” he said. “I faced a first-round draft pick there, and that really opened my eyes on how the next level would be, getting to play in that big ballpark…it’s really helped me in my career. (CEO/President) Jeremy (Booth) has given me all the information I need, and really just learning and having a good time has helped me.”
It’s been a bit of a mutually helpful relationship between Collier and the Future Stars Series; he authored arguably the most famous home run in the six-year history of P15 events, hitting one at the 2020 National Combine that ended up in a New Balance commercial, “mmm hmm” audio included and all.
“That for sure was one of the farthest home runs I’ve ever hit in my life,” he said. “Doing it at that event, it was like ‘oh my goodness,’ because there was really good talent, and I was just so excited. That was when I was 15, which is crazy…it was actually at Future Stars (Series) when I hit that backside home run off of Ryan Spikes. That was a pretty hard fastball, and I hit it pretty far, so I was like, if I can do that, I can do a lot more things. Right there, it just clicked.”
While Collier has undoubtedly showed he’s one of the premier available power hitters in the upcoming draft, that also comes at somewhat of a cost to the perception of his other tools. Some short-sighted minds may only focus on his power, although he’s showed to be an above-average defender with a very strong arm from the left side of the infield, is an average runner for his size, and can hit to all fields with ease.
“People tend to not talk about my defense as much, but that’s not really important to me, because I know how good of a defender I am,” he said. “I don’t focus on what they think about it. But, I love when they say that I’m a power hitter, because I am one. My defense doesn’t get talked about a lot, but it’s something I work on a lot; my dad and I have a routine with defense we do every day, lots of (infield/outfield), lots of hand drills. Every day, it’s probably 100-150 ground balls, so I get a lot of work on defense.”
As he prepares to make the jump to the next level and as his body continues to develop, Collier says there’s been an evolution in his conditioning and workouts to help better prepare him to face grown men at an early age.
“My body has got a lot more in shape, I’m a lot more mature in my all-around game,” he said. “It’s really trying to get a better understanding, learning more about the mental part and staying physically ready. It was a lot of eating better, a lot of running, a lot of stamina stuff. Right now, I’m starting to get more into the weights, but really I was just running and getting in shape and getting my stamina up.”
A lot of that comes at the direction of his father, Lou, who played eight seasons in the big leagues with multiple teams, and knows exactly what it takes to both get to the game’s highest level and then stay there for an extended period of time.
“I know I’ve had an advantage over a lot of people because of my dad and his mind and what he knows and what he can teach somebody,” Cam Collier said. “I’ve never really felt like nervous or be scared because my dad played in the big leagues. Maybe when I was younger, but now it’s really something that I can use to my advantage and not have to worry about. He really has the playbook, he has everything I need to know and he can guide me through everything. Anything he says can help me.”
There is seemingly little to worry about going forward for Collier, who will enjoy just being a kid — he says he enjoys watching sports, specifically following the Dallas Cowboys, watching Marvel movies and shows and hanging out with his friends — for now, while still being excited about what lies in the months ahead, whatever that may be.
“I’m hoping it all goes well, and I’m very excited to see where I’ll be in the future,” he said. “I’m just waiting for that day to come, but I’m just taking it a day at a time.”
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