Mariners News: Mike Zunino Playing Well in Tacoma


The Mariners former catcher of the future is off to a fine start this season with the Tacoma Rainiers.

2015 was not an easy season for the Seattle Mariners, and Mike Zunino took a lot of heat from fans for his poor performance. Chris Iannetta was signed this offseason to be the M’s everyday catcher, and Zunino is starting the year with the Tacoma Rainiers. Despite entering the season with low expectations, Mike Z is doing a nice job in the Pacific Coast League.

The University of Florida alum is hitting .333 with 1 home run and 5 RBI across 5 games with the Rainiers. He has registered a .364 on base percentage and slugged .476 in 21 at bats. Zunino’s 4 strikeouts are the proof he still has trouble making consistent contact. He has also thrown out 33% of potential base stealers and played decent defense behind the plate.

Zunino received an extended look with the Mariners this spring in Arizona. The former top prospect struggled with the stick, slashing .158/.227/.263 through 19 Cactus League at bats. Mike Z contributed 1 triple and drove in a pair of runs across 9 games.

The 25-year-old had a horrifying season with the Mariners in 2015. Zunino posted a .174 batting average with 11 doubles, 11 home runs and 28 RBI across 112 games. He improved slightly following the hiring of Edgar Martinez, but the M’s decided to demote him to Tacoma at the end of August. Zunino excelled in his brief time in the Pacific Coast League, posting a .317 average with 3 home runs and 8 RBI.

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Following the season, Seattle sent Zunino to the Instructional League in Arizona to overhaul his swing. It is very disappointing that Zunino’s career has essentially been derailed because of Jack Zduriencik’s lack of patience. Through 295 games with the Mariners, Zunino is hitting a modest .193 with 38 home runs and 102 RBI.

Zunino’s offensive production at the big league level has been underwhelming, but his work behind the plate has been very impressive. He is wise beyond his years the it comes to working with the pitching staff and framing pitches. Zunino has gunned down 28% percentage of potential base stealers during his three-year career. There is little doubt that Mike Z has a chance to develop into a gold glove backstop.

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I would not be surprised to see Mike Zunino spend the entire season with the Rainiers. There is obviously a chance that he hits his way back onto the roster or is promoted due to injury. However, I think Dipoto wants to give Zunino as much time as necessary to develop before throwing him to the wolves at Safeco Field.