* Boomer Collins isn't the first 'Boomer' in the Toronto Blue Jays' organization. Originally undrafted, the outfielder is enjoying his time playing for the Rookie-class Vancouver Canadians. (Photo: Eddie Michels). .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians drafted … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
Previous weeks: Nay, Weekly Jays Prospects rankings XII .... BA’s Jays prospect rankings XI …. Holmberg, Jays rankings X ….Sanchez, Pompey, Norris Rankings VIV … Case lone Van Canuck Prospects VIII … Romano signs, Prospects VII … Short one for Sanchez, Prospects VI Burns versatile, Prospects V …. Lawrence a cool cat, Prospects IV … De Jong II, Prospects III … Copeland picks up Janssen, Prospects II …. Pompey burning bases, Prospects I …. Matt Boyd.
By Bob Elliott
Really, it wasn’t Sheri Collins’ call.
Her son was ready.
And so her baby, Thomas Joseph, came into this world on June 13, 1989 in a Mount Pleasant, Tex. hospital.
“I was born in a tornado, and just before there was like a huge crash of lightning, the doctor said ‘oh oh, it’s a boomer,’ then there was thunder,” said Boomer Collins from Vancouver, “since then, it’s been my nickname.”
Boomer Collins now patrols right field for the Vancouver Canadians.
He wasn’t a high draft selection.
In fact, he went undrafted.
Yet Collins has one good thing going for him.
If your nickname is Boomer in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, you have a chance.
First baseman Greg (Boomer) Wells appeared in 32 games for the 1981 Jays, hitting .247 with five RBIs, before being dealt to the Minnesota Twins for Hosken Powell.
The second Boomer pitched in 306 games for the Jays (138 starts) from 1987-92, earning a World Series ring (and returning in 1999-2000). Wells was 84-55 with 13 saves, working 1,148 2/3 innings for the Jays, walking 294 and striking out 784.
“Last year after I signed, a couple of coaches said, ‘you know, you haven’t been the only Boomer to come through these parts,’ and someone asked if I was named after him,” said Collins, who has played more games in the outfield than any of the nine the Canadians have used, except for Roemon Fields.
Boomer’s father, Tom Collins, played for coach Lee Corso, co-host of ESPN College Game Day, with the Indiana Hoosiers. Collins was a punter at Indiana and more than once he got off a booming kick.
Then he was a high school teacher for “about 20 years” and the last 10 a superintendent of schools in Waxahachie, Tex.
Waxahachie High was home to: right-hander Belve Bean, of the Cleveland Indians and the Washington Senators (1930-35), infielder Jimmy Adair, 1931 Baltimore Orioles and Paul Richards, a Brooklyn Dodger, New York Giant, Philadelphia Athletic and Detroit Tiger (1932–1946).
Richards managed the Chicago White Sox and the Orioles 12 seasons and was the general manager in Atlanta, Houston and Baltimore.
“At Waxahachie we played at Richards Field, named after Paul Richards,” said Boomer.
Boomer played on the DBAT team that won the Mickey Mantle 2006 World Series title and was an invite to the 2007 Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif. for the top draft eligible prospects.
As a quarterback he earned player of the year honours, throwing for 1,389 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2007 for the Indians.
Leaving Waxahachie behind, this Boomer played his first two years for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
After batting .245 with a .666 OPS as a freshman and .215 with a .662 OPS his first two years at Nebraska, the 6-foot, 200-pounder made an impact transferring to the Dallas Baptist Patriots in 2012 hitting .374, with 13 booming homers, 58 RBIs and an 1.113 OPS. He wasn’t drafted. As a senior, he hit .271 with seven homers with 42 RBIs and a .758 OPS. He wasn’t drafted.
“My phone rang after the draft and it was (Blue Jays scout) Mike Wagner,” said Collins. “He asked if I wanted to continue my career. It took me less than half a second for me to say yes.”
A year ago for the Gulf Coast Jays, Boomer hit .305 with two homers, 25 RBIs and an .829 OPS.
Boomer had two hits including a double in a 2-0 win over rival Boise Tuesday night and is hitting .250, with two homers, 26 RBIs and a .685 OPS. He’s 7-for-7 stealing bases and has scored 20 runs in 54 games.
“I love it here in Vancouver,” said Collins. “It’s such a beautiful city, so pretty. I love the evergreen trees, the weather. I’ve been to Hill Country, down around New Braunfels and San Marcos (George Strait's stomping grounds). This area is prettier.”
And it doesn’t hurt that the Canadians are drawing a league-leading average of 4,803 fans to Nat Bailey Stadium each game.
An American League evaluator has a turn at picking the top 10 Blue Jays prospects in the minors:
2. OF Anthony Gose, Buffalo. “He got hurt by having an option, but that all works out. Eventually someone else will be send out and he’ll stay. He’s fearless, I’ve seen a handful of balls on the track Colby Rasmus didn’t get to, that Gose catches. Easy.”
3. OF Dalton Pompey, N.H. “Remember when they bumped him from Dunedin and he was hitting .098 or whatever. Well, he’s healthy and was at .295 last time I looked. He won’t be there long.”
4. SS Franklin Barreto, Vancouver “What was it they used to say about Wayne Gretzky? ‘and he’s still only 18?’ He has the most hits in the league (79) and is top five in OPS (.903) ... and he’s still only 18. He might only be 5-foot-9, but the bat plays a lot bigger.”
5. RHP Kendall Graveman, Buffalo. “He’s been at three levels too like Norris, no actually he started at Lansing, so he’s climbed four rungs on the ladder. As a college draft he should be able to handle the adjustments easier. I wondered about his innings though ... 155 already, after 39 last year ... but I checked him out -- he had almost 115 at Mississippi State.”
6. LHP Jairo Labourt, Vancouver “You never know who is going to stay healthy, but this guy has a chance. He throws three pitches for strikes, I saw him once at 94-96 MPH. People knock his walks, but I like the whiffs (31 walks, 63 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings).”
7. 3B Mitch Nay, Lansing “I didn’t see him as a high schooler, but the scout I respect the most in baseball said he was the second best power bat in the 2012 draft. He isn’t knocking down fences yet, but he hasn’t shown a ton of holes. He’ll be fine.”
8. RHP Roberto Osuna, Dunedin “Now he’s a handful of starts (five) post Tommy John surgery. There are the kinks and maybe even bone spurs to work out. I like his change and you can’t quarrel with the velocity.”
9. LHP Francisco Gracesqui, Vancouver. “Signed off a summer try out camp in New York City in 2011 by Mike Pesce. Doesn’t have an ERA after 14 1/3 innings (seven walks, 16 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings). Plus fastball. A big leaguer? Maybe.”
10. OF Mike Crouse, N.H. “Not sure how much action he’s been getting from other guys but had him as a ‘can’t miss’ at Lansing, then he was so-so at Dunedin. I liked him when I saw him on the road. He has a chance. Above average runner, probably a back-up outfielder.”