"It was hard sitting out," Collier said. "I just tried to stay positive and make sure I was at my best when I was able to play. I knew I had to make up for the lost time. I had to hit the ground running."
Collier has certainly done just that. The 34th overall pick by Philadelphia in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft had two hits in his first Florida State League game and three in his second, and hasn't stopped hitting for the Threshers.
The 21-year-old California native hasn't seen his average drop below .300 and was batting .313 with nine extra-base hits and 13 RBIs in 21 games through Monday.
That's a major improvement from last year, when Collier hit .255 for Lakewood in the Class A South Atlantic League. But it was what happened at the end of the season that jeopardized his prospect status.
Collier tested positive for the amphetamine Adderall and drew a 50-game suspension he would serve to start the 2012 season. The announcement came on his birthday, Sept. 8, although he had received the bad news earlier.
"It was tough to hear," Collier said. "It shouldn't have happened."
If Collier had been open about his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, there likely wouldn't have been an issue. Players with ADHD can take Adderall if given prior approval.
According to Collier, he's had trouble paying attention since his early school days, and it's a situation he's always struggled with.
"I didn't feel comfortable talking about my issues," Collier said. "I should've been more open. I didn't go about things the right way. I didn't take proper actions."
Bothered by concentration lapses in the outfield and on the bases, Collier began taking Adderall without telling the Phillies. He paid the price.
Collier had to have a heart procedure in high school, and he missed the entire 2010 season after two surgeries -- one for a broken hamate and the other for a torn wrist tendon. But the suspension may have been the toughest hurdle he had to clear.
He credits Dickie Noles, the former Phillies pitcher who is now the team's employee assistance professional, with helping him get though the tough times.
"It's all out there now," said Collier, who is awaiting permission to take Adderall again. "It's not a secret anymore."
As he waited for his suspension to end, Collier was limited to simulated games at the Phillies' practice facility against pitchers throwing bullpen sessions. But he returned to action swinging the bat in midseason form.
The left-handed hitter was 5-for-11 in his first two games and has built from there. He is coping just fine without medication and showing that he was worth the $1.02 million bonus the Phillies gave him coming out of Chino Hills High School.
Collier had shown only flashes of his potential until this season. He stole 35 bases last year for Class A Lakewood and had 24 doubles, six triples and 40 walks, but struck out 99 times, hit just one homer and was caught 13 times trying to steal.
Given a fresh start after his suspension, Collier is finally starting to put everything together.
"I want to prove I can play this game at a high level," he said. "I'm really hungry and ready to show what I can do. My confidence is still high. I've had some setbacks, but I think I'm better for them. I feel like I have a fresh start."
Change at top: With the promotion of Clearwater third baseman Cody Asche to Double-A Reading, Mike O'Neill became the active leader in the Florida State League batting race, and the Palm Beach outfielder raised his average to .354 with a four-hit game Monday. Asche left with a .349 average. Third baseman Nick Castellanos was hitting .405 with Lakeland when he was promoted to Double-A Erie earlier this season.
New-look Mets: After romping to the first-half tile in the South Division with a 49-19 record, St. Lucie will have to try for a second-half repeat without its top offensive threat and top starting pitcher. Third baseman Wilmer Flores and right-hander Cory Mazzoni were promoted to Double-A Binghamton. Flores, the MVP of the All-Star Game, hit .289 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in the first half, while Mazzoni was 5-1 with a 3.25 ERA.
Yelich, Szczur return: Jupiter's Christian Yelich and Daytona's Matt Szczur -- two of the Florida State League's top center-field prospects -- returned to action after each was sidelined for about three weeks. Yelich missed time because of a concussion, and Szczur had a sore left knee. Yelich, the Marlins' No. 1 prospect, is No. 28 on MLB.com's Top 100 list. Szczur is the No. 4 prospect of the Chicago Cubs and No. 96 overall.
D-Jays take dive: Dunedin went 1-5 after clinching the first-half title in the North Division with an 8-3 victory over Clearwater on June 10, then started the second half 0-5. The Blue Jays lost a three-game series at Brevard County before being swept in a home doubleheader with Bradenton. Left-hander Sean Nolin, who leads the league with a 7-0 record, is on the disabled list.