McKinney Boyd alum Tyler Collins still remembers drawing inspiration from Hall of Fame shortstop Derek Jeter when he was younger.
“I remember him saying, ‘You could be here one day. You could get drafted out of high school and be one of those star players,’” Collins said. “Ever since then, I put my mind to it.”
Collins saw that dream come to fruition on Monday as an eighth-round pick by the Atlanta Braves in the 2021 MLB First-Year Player Draft. The Braves selected the Bronco outfielder with the 247th overall pick.
“It’s a dream come true,” Collins said.
It was one that meant working through some initial strife on draft day. Collins entered the morning with ambitions of being selected anywhere between the third and fifth rounds. He described the moment as “nerve-racking” but credited his family for helping him through the day.
“The picks went lower and your stomach starts hurting a little bit,” Collins said. “My mom was really supportive through all of it.”
Collins learned from his agent of the Braves’ interest around the sixth and seventh rounds before the selection was made official with the team’s eighth pick of the draft. He said he plans to sign with the ball club as well — Baseball America lists the slot value of the No. 247 pick as $166,100.
Collins said Atlanta was one of several teams he had spoken with leading up to Monday, noting the San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers had also shown interest.
Collins remembers that process ramping up at the start of his senior season at Boyd, recounting a Zoom session with various MLB teams and an experience he called “surreal” in hindsight.
It was plenty merited given Collins’ accomplishments on the diamond during his time with the Broncos.
Collins shined early into his high school career, earning district newcomer of the year honors as a freshman and immediately carving out a spot at the top of head coach Brooke Court’s batting order. More or less entrenched in that role over four years on varsity, Collins was named 9-6A offensive player of the year as a sophomore and was among the catalysts for a Boyd team that caught fire in the postseason and made a run to the Class 6A state semifinals.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic cut Collins’ junior year short, he was his usual consistent self as a senior — hitting .372 with a .482 on-base percentage and totaling 35 hits (17 for extra bases), 13 RBIs and 25 runs scored. He added 10 stolen bases for a Boyd team that won a 5-6A championship and tallied a 17-15-1 record.
Collins began his high school career as a center fielder but played shortstop during his senior season. Either option is on the table at the next level, he said — noting that he enjoyed his time in the infield more due to the extra activity on defense.
“I feel like whatever game I want to play is where I’ll end up,” Collins said. “If I work on the infield or strengthen my outfield work, I think I can be a utility player and go both ways or strictly infield or outfield.”
As a senior, Collins earned his third all-district superlative with another offensive player of the year accolade and was selected to play in the North Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game.
“Next take it for granted. It goes by really quick and I’d live it all over again if I had to,” Collins said.
Throughout his senior season, Collins maintained communication with several MLB clubs — a sign that as draft day drew near, he intended to sign with whichever team drafted him.
That meant breaking some difficult news to the coaching staff at Oklahoma State University. Collins had been committed to the Cowboys since his sophomore year and had developed a relationship with the Big 12 program dating back to when he was initially offered as a freshman.
“I loved the coaches and how much of a family it was up there,” Collins said. “They called me and asked what I was doing. Once it happened, I called up all the coaches who recruited me, I thanked them for the opportunity and for believing in me but that this was where I was headed.”
Initially, that next stop will be in Florida. Collins said he’ll travel east on Wednesday for rookie ball.
“I think now the fun part begins. The more exciting part is where I can finally focus on the grind and going out and playing baseball and not having any distractions,” Collins said. “I can get more advanced learning, fielding and be able to groom my game in ways I couldn’t imagine.”