In the 2012 amateur draft, the Seattle Mariners selected catcher Mike Zunino out of Florida with the third overall pick. He was perhaps the best college baseball player in the country, and he was actually one of only two college hitters taken in the top 20.
He won all of the awards given to college baseball players, I think. Very little is known about these awards or the sport. He played in three straight College World Series's, which is just like the MLB World Series in that it doesn't accurately represent the entire world. "He was really good," according to a scout somewhere, probably.
"He played the baseball game and he swung at the balls and then after contact the balls went into the field for hits. Which are also desirable at the college level," says another scout, maybe.
Man, this kid could hit. He could also catch.
"He could also catch," is what Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan might say to me if I asked him if Zunino could also catch. Now he's going to be hitting and catching with the Mariners at the professional level of the sport of baseball. Will this be relevant to your fantasy baseball league?
I mean, it could be.
Zunino signed with the Mariners in time to play 44 minor league games in 2012, 15 of which came after an aggressive promotion to AA in order to make him eligible for the Arizona Fall League. "I wasn't worried about it," is how I imagine Zunino saying it to me in my head because he hit .360/.447/.689 with 13 home runs in those 44 games.
Including .333/.386/.588 for AA Jackson.
"Wow, Dad!" says a kid to his dad in the stands perhaps. just happy to have a baseball team to watch in his small town. The boy sometimes thinks about moving to the big city. Maybe even Seattle. Or not. There are many cities.
Zunino, now ranked as the 17th best prospect in the game by Baseball America ("Yeah, we did that" they might admit.) going into the year didn't go to the big city but instead to the smaller but still pretty large city of Tacoma to start the 2013 season. He was damn good, too.
"Damn good." - Anonymous.
In April, he had many hits over the first two weeks. Many of them traveled further than the eye could see, should that eye only have sight to the outfield wall which was located some 300-400 feet away. Their eyes might not be good, but I've seen worse. And my eyes are decent and I wear glasses sometimes, so my eyes judging the vision of those eyes would be above-average but their sight would be slightly below average but not legally blind.
He hit bombs for days, is what I am saying.
And then he hit bombs for months instead. There were less of them and less hits and more strikeouts. This season, Zunino is striking out 33.7% of the time at home and walking only 6.1% of the time. On the road he isn't much better, striking out 24.1% of the time and walking 7.4% on the road away from Tacoma.
"It's like he's at home, but slightly better," said area scout Kenneth Arthur.
Zunino hit .138/.214/.241 at home with 1 home run and an ISO of .103. On the road, it's like he had won one of those fancy college baseball awards, hitting .333/.389/.750 in 108 plate appearances with 10 home runs. He's not a professional baseball player, so when people on the street ask him what he does for a living he doesn't have to shamefully say he plays minor league baseball.
"I hit balls, son!" he might say.
Or will he? Yes, he will. Or, he won't. We don't know yet.
Zunino's been figured out a little bit at triple-A, but overall he's still been a phenomenal road hitter plus he's still a catcher meaning that slightly above-average offense with good defense can make him a very valuable player. "Most catchers can't hit for shit," said me.
This writer thinks that Zunino will do just fine, now that he's hitting less at Cheney Stadium in the Tacoma area and likely shielded from left-handed pitchers for awhile. And for that, Mariners fans can be grateful.
Unless he sucks. Which he might. We know very little.