2012 MLB Draft: Should the Mets Pressure Josh Thole and Draft UF's Mike Zunino?

Alex GiobbiAnalyst IMarch 2, 2012

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 27:  Catcher Robert Beary #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks makes the out against Mike Zunino #3 of the Florida Gators in the 9th inning during game 1 of the men's 2011 NCAA College Baseball World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha on June 27, 2011 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Maybe it's the fact that I was brought up idolizing Mike Piazza and Paul Lo Duca, maybe it's the fact that every early Mets game I have gone to, Vance Wilson was behind the plate.

Needless to say, personally, I am not a fan of Josh Thole, or for that matter, Mike Nickeas.

For the majority of the team's history, the Mets have started catchers who have had some pop in their bats. John Stearns, Gary Carter, Todd Hundley and the aforementioned Piazza and Lo Duca are all legitimate hitters.

I'm not saying that Thole hasn't lived up to expectations in New York, he's a catcher who can hit for average, but not for power. Needless to say, I've been more excited by the carousel of backups that have paraded through Flushing, that has included Omir Santos, Henry Blanco, Rod Barajas and Ronny Paulino.

Each of them have been able to hit home runs, some in the death trap that was Citi Field, others in parks with shorter dimensions.

When June rolls around, the Mets should consider taking a look at the top catching prospect—Florida's Mike Zunino.

Zunino is a junior and a good hitter, both for average and power. Last year, the Gators backstop hit .371 with 19 home runs in a season where his team made the College World Series final against eventual champion South Carolina.

He's a potential Golden Spikes award finalist, and an all around great player.

Although these totals are inflated due to less games played during a College baseball season, the fact is that Zunino has managed to impress. He's playing college ball during the "Dead Bat" era, where the NCAA, in an attempt to reduce injuries from bat on ball contact, has mandated the use of "dampened" metal or wood bats, thus eliminating the slugfests that defined college baseball until recently.

Can you imagine Zunino's statistical output with a pre-mandate bat?

The only problem with drafting Zunino is the fact that he is an elite catcher, and likely will be drafted in the Top-10. Of the teams drafting before the Mets, only three have a glaring need at catcher that must be addressed within three years: the Kansas City Royals, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Miami Marlins.

There is the likelihood that a team with a less immediate need at catcher may take Zunino, this mock draft has Zunino going 6th overall to Chicago, although the Cubs don't seem to be having problems with their current catchers. 

Nonetheless, should Zunino fall to the 12th pick, the Mets shouldn't hesitate to snatch him up. Zunino would be a great pick for this team, who has made solid first round choices the past two years.

It would be quite the accomplishment to have Zunino play in the Big Apple.