The baseball Rule IV amateur draft is an inexact science at best. So many moving parts, so much information to parse, it is a wonder that anybody in scouting gets to keep their job for more than a year at a time.
The Mariners likely consider themselves quite fortunate when they drafted catcher Mike Zunino out of Florida this past June. Zunino was considered one of the most polished and advanced players in the draft, a player who figures to insert himself into the Major League conversation in a hurry.
Though his numbers in the 2012 college season left much to be desired, Zunino’s professional debut in the low-A Northwestern League has gone quite well. .373/.474/.736 well, in fact. So well that the Mariners are moving Zunino up to double-A this week, a very aggressive promotion indeed.
Word out of M’s camp is that Mike Zunino is headed to Double-A Jackson.
— Jason A. Churchill (@ProspectInsider) August 13, 2012
Before the draft, prospect watchers like Kevin Goldstein and Keith Law considered Zunino a potential top pick talent, a well-rounded player without any real holes in his game. He may lack the superduper star potential of higher picks Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa, Zunino might make an impact at the Major League level as soon as 2013.
Goldstein said as much in his Monday Morning Ten Pack today, noting that Zunino getting his feet wet in double-A this year plus a good showing in the Arizona Fall League might put him in contention for the starting catcher’s job with the Mariners at Spring Training.
Good news for Mariners fans but probably not great news for Jesus Montero, the catcher Seattle acquired in the off-season to take their role as Catcher of the Future. Well, maybe not exactly news. Seattle seemed to have a good idea of what Montero was and is, giving him limited reps behind the plate (decreasing as the season progressed.)
Montero has 40 starts behind the plate in 2012, starting an average of one out of every five games over the last month or so. His Mariners teammates gave Montero a hard time when the team drafted Zunino but, after a brief cameo in the lowest levels of the minors, it looks like Zunino is coming straight for his job. Not that a bat-only player with a 96 wRC+ can expect much protection from people trying to steal his job.