5 former "Can't Miss" Mariners prospects that ended up doing just that

Discover the Mariners' top prospects who didn't live up to the hype. From Mike Zunino to Dustin Ackley, find out what went wrong to these highly touted players.
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Over the past 2 decades, the Mariners have only made the playoffs once. While they have been close in several seasons, posting winning records while missing out, the Mariners have had losing seasons 12 of the past 20 seasons. They have had their fair share of top prospects over the years because of those losing seasons. Some of them panned out, most of them didn't. Some of those prospects were described as "Can't miss", and they still missed. Was it the player? The team? Coaching? A mix of all 3? Let's find out with our first entry.

5. Mike Zunino, Catcher

Yes, Mike Zunino has an 11-year career. It is hard to call him a bust, but did he live up to the hype of being a 3rd overall pick for the Mariners? No, he did not. Mike was rushed to the big leagues, and that did not do him any favors. He was drafted 3rd overall in the 2012 MLB Draft and made his Major League debut in June 2013. Mike was a fan favorite in Seattle, and for good reason. He had all of the power in the world and hit massive moonshots. Offensively speaking, that was about it, though.

Zunino's slash line as a Mariner was a dismal .207/.276/.406/.682 with an OPS+ of 87. The league average for OPS+ is 100, so Zunino was about 13% worse than a replacement-level player. He struck out in 33.5% of his plate appearances and walked in just 6.8% as a Mariner. That does not sound like a 3rd overall draft pick to me. Hindsight is 20/20, but who could the Mariners have taken with that pick instead of Zunino? Kevin Gausman, Carlos Correa, Max Fried, Corey Seager, and Mitch Haniger, just to name a few.

The Mariners ended up trading Zunino to the Tampa Bay Rays for OFs Jake Fraley and Mallex Smith. Mike would go on to make his only All-Star appearance in 2021 with the Rays and even received MVP votes that season. Since then, though, it has been much of the same for Mike. He spent the first half of 2023 with the Guardians before being released in June, striking out 61 times in his 124 at-bats. As of writing this, he is still a free agent and is looking to play in 2024.