The beast behind the plate
Mike Zunino: H/W: 6’2, 200 LBS, B/T: R/R
The Seattle Mariners hit the nail right on the head with the selection of Mike Zunino, and not because of ramifications it will have on the franchise moving forward.
Although, when you think about how this team is being constructed (heavy emphasis on pitching and defense), it seemed like a no-brainer the Mariners would select a steady back stop.
Why he fits in with what the M’s are planning on doing
This was great selection because of the tools Zunino brings to the table. He’s a polished athlete as is and that’s rare, especially for a catcher.
Deviating from the traditional catcher style, Zunino is built more like a brick. He’s tall with a chiseled frame. He has a powerful core and strong hands. Blessed with above-average strength and body control, he’s a great receiver, and he’s made just three errors in all of 2012.
Zunino is a son a former minor league catcher, he knows how to frame pitches and his sharp reaction times make him a goalie-type blocker.
Defensively speaking, the Mariners have finally found Dan Wilson’s replacement.
The next Carlton Fisk?
It’s not his defensive acumen that makes him such a valuable commodity. The kid can hit as well.
He mixes solid contact and power like no catcher we have seen since the days of Carlton Fisk (that may be a little before your time so I’ll use the name Matt Wieters).
Before enrolling at Florida, he led his high school ball team to two consecutive class 5A state championships and set his schools single season home run record twice.
Zunino was an All-American in each of the three season’s he’s spent with the Gators.
After a strong freshman season, he took his production to a different level in 2010. He hit a staggering .371 with 19 home runs and ranked atop the SEC with a .422 average and 8 home runs during conference play.
Zunino single handedly led the Gators to a conference championship and was named the 2011 SEC Player of the Year.
Zunino’s junior season? It’s exactly what you think. .316/.388/.667/.1.055, 18 HR, 60 RBI, 27 2B, 73 H, 50 R, 45 K’s/28 BB’s
What this pick means for the future
In terms of how Zunino plays into the Mariners rebuilding plans, it addresses their organizations wide lack of ready-made talent at the catching position. More importantly, it puts Jesus Montero in the spot light.
He will have at least two more seasons to prove he can handle the position from the standpoint of calling the game (he isn’t currently), to throwing out runners at above replacement clip (he isn’t).
Let’s remember what being the top pick means for players that are not pitchers (pitchers generally take longer to reach the majors).
They are fast tracked for a reason. Their skill sets are higher then that of your average prospect.
Which means their MLB clock starts a lot sooner then that of an average pitcher.
When I see Zunino, I see a catcher that will be in Seattle within two seasons because defensively speaking, he is light years ahead of what Montero will ever be able to provide and that is something the Mariners desperately need after this season (Miguel Olivo’s contract expires after this season).
I’m not saying Montero is a terrible catcher, but he wasn’t traded for his defense. That is what Zunino will provide on top of the offense every Mariners fan desired.
Again Jack, great pick.