The Seattle Mariners threw caution to the wind Tuesday when they promoted last year’s first round pick Mike Zunino to Seattle from AAA Tacoma. Zunino, who made his professional debut with the Everett Aqua Sox less than 11 months ago, is not on the 40-man roster. The Mariners will need to make a corresponding move, which will likely trigger the designation for assignment of Brandon Bantz.
Zunino, who broke camp with Tacoma after a stellar 2012 in Everett and Jackson, was hitting .238 with 11 homers and 43 RBI. However, he had 59 strikeouts and just 14 walks, and his horrendous home-road splits (heavily favouring his road numbers) were cause for concern.
Many bloggers and Mariners insiders are speculating that Mariners’ GM Jack Zdurencik made this move out of concern for his own job security. Zunino’s success would certainly help his case for the right to build the team another year.
The Mariners’ catching depth has been tested recently, with Kelly Shoppach’s knees bearing the load. Inuries to Jesus Montero and Jesus Sucre have forced the Mariners hand. A prospect like Bantz would never have seen the bigs at this point in his career without some sort of desparate situation.
The Mariners called up Bantz last week presumably since Zunino wasn’t ready. It’ll be interesting to hear what exactly changed their minds.