Mariners’ Zunino getting defensive

By Josh Jackson

Late in May, when it became apparent the Mariners were looking for an everyday catcher more reliable than Jesus Montero had been, MLB Trade Rumors speculated Zunino could be “a hot streak away” from a callup.

Well, Zunino has hit that hot streak.

But when I asked Zunino whether the possibility of a trip to the big leagues had entered his mind lately, he demurred and gave the focused-ballplayer’s standard answer.

“No, it’s one of those things. We have a lot of young talent in this organization, and it’s great to play together and work on getting better together,” he said. “We all know you have to take it a game at a time and try get better. You can’t look into the future. I ‘m just focused on having good at-bats and catching well behind the plate.”

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Much attention has been paid to Mike Zunino’s bat. That’s what happens when you slug your way to Double-A the year you’re drafted No. 3 overall and then hit .335 with 30 total bases there in 15 games.

But the Mariners’ No. 3 prospect, who’s among Triple-A leaders with 11 home runs, told me on Friday night that for him, this season is all about what the Mariners need: good defense behind the plate.

“That’s the most important aspect. I’m working on receiving, and throwing and my whole game back there,” he said. “That’s what’s going to prolong a career. The bat will be there. But I know I can’t overlook the defensive side of things, and that’s what I’m working on this year.”

Through 39 games, he’d allowed three passed balls and thrown out 27 percent of would-be base-stealers.

2 Comments

He’s not ready to be called up. He had a hot streak at the beginning of triple-A this year but right now, he’s just batting .231 BA. No, where near ready to be called up for his bat. That’s what Mariners need is a good catcher with a bat.

You’re 1/2 right; he may not be ready for The Show, but it is not due to his bat. MLB organizations promote catchers who can manage a game and major league pitching staffs of 12-13 men; promoting catchers who lack the defensive skills necessary to do so rarely happens. And if you need proof on why this is so, just ask Jesus [Montero]!

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