The Seattle Mariners took Florida catcher Mike Zunino with the third pick of today's amateur draft. With the Houston Astros surprising everyone by taking slugging shortstop Carlos Correa with the first pick, and the Twins selecting budding outfield star Byron Buxton with the second pick, it left the Mariners with the choice of taking either Zunino or pitchers Mark Appel or Kevin Gausman.
There had been some thought that the Mariners might take Correa if the Astros had taken Appel as predicted. But with the Astros taking Correa, the Mariners decided to go with the power-hitting catcher.
Named a first-team Louisville Slugger All-American on Thursday by Collegiate Baseball, Zunino is a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award, the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award. He was the 2011 SEC Player of the Year and a 2012 first-team All-SEC selection. A two-time first-team All-SEC recipient and two-time member of the league’s All-Defensive Team, he has registered a .993 fielding percentage, with three errors in 452 chances, and has thrown out almost a third of the runners who have attempted to steal on him (45 of 144).
“Mike is a sturdy, blue-collar, talented defensive receiver with extra-base offensive potential,” McNamara said. “He is a winning player, and will be a good fit with the Mariners. We look forward to having him in our organization and working his way towards being part of our Major League club in the future.”
Zunino, 21, led the University of Florida in nearly every offensive category. After a 3-game sweep in the NCAA Gainesville Regional over the weekend, he is batting .316 (73x231) with 27 doubles, 18 home runs and 60 RBI in 62 games. He has started 58 of his team’s 63 games at catcher, and recorded an additional 4 starts as the designated hitter. He was named to the Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team, and has hit seven career post-season home runs.
The 6-foot-2, 220 pound backstop leads the Gators in Slugging Percentage (.667), RBI, Home Runs, Doubles, Sacrifice Flies (9) and Total Bases (154). He is also 2nd in Batting Average, Stolen Bases (9), 3rd in Hits, Runs (50), At Bats, Walks (28) and On-Base Percentage (.388).
Zunino is a three-year letterwinner for the Gators. In 189 career games (thru Sunday), Zunino hit .325 with 57 doubles, 1 triple, 46 home runs and 168 RBI. He swiped 24 bases (in 30 attempts), including 9 of 10 this season. Mike has a career on-base percentage of .391 and a career slugging percentage of .617.
Zunino was named a 2012 Louisville Slugger first-team All-American, first-team All-SEC and first-team All-SEC Defensive Team. He is a semifinalist for the 2012 Golden Spikes Award, a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy and a Semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award.
As a sophomore (2011), was voted SEC Player of the Year, was one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, and was a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy. He was chosen first-team All-American by ABCA, Baseball America and Perfect Game. Was named to the second-team by Louisville Slugger. Was also first team all-SEC and a member of the SEC All-Defensive Team. As a freshman (2010) was chosen to Baseball America’s Freshman All-America Team and to the SEC All-Freshman Team.
Zunino graduated from Mariner High School in Coral Gables, FL. He was selected first team all-state in Class 5A his senior year after hitting .464 with 43 hits, 37 RBI, 12 home runs and 9 doubles. Mike was drafted by Oakland in the 30th round of the 2009 June Draft, but elected to attend Florida.
Mike’s father, Greg, is a scout for the Cincinnati Reds.