Streaky catchers – Zunino on fire
Gary Sanchez may be smoking hot in NY, but Mariner Mike Zunino is not far behind and his story is even more unlikely. Gary Sanches is just starting his career, but last year it looked like Zunino was ending his.
Zunino was the 3rd pick in the 2012 draft and was in the majors by 2013 at age 22. He scuffled but in 2014 he slugged 22 home runs and seemed to be the Mariner catcher of the future. However, there were signs of trouble to come. He struck out 158 times in 2014 and those strikeouts proved to be his undoing in 2015. Zunino couldn’t make contact and found himself with an OPS below .600 and a ticket to the minor leagues.
Ove the winter the Mariners hedged their bet on their catcher of the future and signed Chris Iannetta. To prove their point they sent Zunino to the minor leagues to start the 2016 season. Mike had a great April in AAA but trailed off in May and June. With just a few minor league at bats in July, the Mariners recalled Mike and he’s been slugging every since.
Maybe the Mariners do have their catcher of the future after all.