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"Look up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's... Mike Zunino!"
Okay, so Mike Zunino isn't Superman. And I'm sure he isn't much of a flyer. But there was one thing Mike Zunino did prove to everyone this season, and that was that he could hit.
After Seattle selected Zunino with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, lots of Mariners fans were excited to see what the young backstop from Florida could do. After all, it didn't seem like there was much that he couldn't do in college.
At the University of Florida, Zunino helped lead the Gators to three consecutive College World Series appearances from 2010 to 2012. In his final year as a Gator, Zunino was the offensive leader putting together a line of .322/.394/.669 with 19 homers and 67 RBI.
Not only did Zunino do well for Florida, he cleaned up when it came to postseason awards. Zunino was selected as a consensus First Team All-American, won the Dick Howser trophy as the Top Collegiate Baseball Player, was named Baseball America's College Player of the Year, and was the recipient of the 2012 Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top player. Zunino was only the fourth catcher to win the award since 1978, joining Jason Varitek in 1994, Buster Posey in 2008, and Bryce Harper in 2010.
Not a bad group to be included in, right?
After finally signing with Seattle, Zunino went on to terrorize pitching wherever he went.
Zunino lasted only 29 games in Class A Everett, hitting an outrageous .373/.474/.736 with 10 homers and 35 RBI.
Zunino's next stop was a promotion to Double A Jackson, where he would be handed the task of catching one of the best rotations in minor league baseball while trying to adjust to a much more difficult level of pitching.
He continued to exceed all expectations by batting .333 with 3 homers and 8 RBI in just 15 games.
After the season, Zunino finished up 2012 by traveling to the Arizona Fall League where he played alongside Mariner prospect Nick Franklin for the Peoria Javelinas and batted .288 with 2 homers and 15 RBI with an OPS of .800 in 19 games.
The ceiling is sky-high for Zunino, and many Mariners fans are begging management to let him compete for the big league starting catching job this spring training.
I don't expect him to break camp with the Mariners; I fully expect management to give him a little more time in Tacoma to gain more experience behind the plate. But it is clear that Mike Zunino is the future for the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have a lot of questions behind the plate heading into the 2013 season, but there is really only one question for this super prospect.
When can you start?