MLB Draft 2012: Why the Minnesota Twins Should Consider Taking Mike Zunino
When the Minnesota Twins go on the clock with the second pick of the 2012 MLB draft on Monday night, it's expected that they will have a battle between taking either an outfielder or a pitcher such as Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman or Lucas Giolito.
However, the Twins would be smart to not only look at the usual suspects, but take a look at someone who could be the game-changer that the Twins farm system desperately needs. That player could be Florida catcher Mike Zunino.
When the Minnesota Twins signed Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million extension prior to the 2010 season, it was widely assumed that the catcher position was going to be locked up for many years to come.
At that time, it seemed like it would be asinine to select a catcher in the first round just three seasons later. Yet, since Mauer has failed to meet expectations since signing the extension.
With that, the Twins need to protect themselves in case Mauer can't play catcher past a couple of more seasons.
With Drew Butera being an offensively challenged catcher, the Twins might be better off selecting someone who could not only play catcher more than a couple days a week, but play it at an elite level.
Zunino has been one of the best power-hitting prospects in college baseball over the past three seasons. During his career at Florida, Zunino has hit 44 home runs and hit over .300 in all three seasons.
Zunino has also been a leader on the field, as Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has raved about his ability to handle a pitching staff and play well defensively:
Would Mike Zunino Be A Good Fit For the Minnesota Twins?
Behind the plate, he's a natural leader who can run a pitching staff. Zunino has a very good and accurate arm, good hands and agility, giving him a package of plus catch and throw skills.
It sounds as if Zunino is a hybrid of both Mauer and Butera. Selecting him would open the door to move Mauer to another position (such as outfield, third base or first base). The Twins would hopefully get more out of Mauer this way, and it would be a way to keep him on the field.
Plus, if Mauer does get somewhat back to his former self, the Twins could dangle Zunino as trade bait in a couple years to get a player that could help a contending team down the road.
Taking Zunino is unlikely to happen, as the Twins are looking elsewhere. However, they should not treat this option as a complete fantasy.
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