The college statistics of Florida catcher Mike Zunino really don’t matter. Projecting college or high school players is the biggest crap shoot in sports. Top picks in the NFL and NBA can step into major roles on a pro team, but rarely in baseball. It takes years and many number one picks are never heard from again.
Consider 2005 when the Mariners drafted another catcher, Jeff Clement of USC. He was drafted in the first round. Great college numbers, all the scouts praised him, much like what is being said about Zunino.
Clement never panned out. He now is in AAA with Indianapolis. The next four players chosen after Clement were Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Ricky Romero, and Troy Tulowitzki. It would seem the Mariner scouts made the wrong pick. But in 2005, who could really say.
Mike Piazza, a future Hall of Fame catcher, was not considered a prospect, top or otherwise, by any organization. He was chosen by the Dodgers near the end of the entire draft as a favor to a family friend of Tom Lasorda.
So why did the Mariners draft Zunino when Jesus Montero is supposed to be the franchise player? Because you never know. Both catchers could become stars, or one, or neither. One could be used as future trade bait.
Then there is Adam Moore. He was once considered the Mariner catcher of the future, but each year he has a severe injury with the season barely underway.
You never how the fortunes of the draft will go. Nothing is a sure thing, and that is why the Mariners take what they consider the best player available.
The NFL is exciting because you know the number one pick of your team can change the team’s future, and while the same can be said of the NBA draft, but to a lesser extent, the MLB amateur draft does not elicit excitement. Afterall, how many Mariner fans have seen or even heard of Mike Zunino before the draft?
Now we know who he is. We just do not what he is for the moment. He could be the next Mike Piazza, the next Jason Varitek (drafted by Seattle, traded to Boston) or the next Jeff Clement. Time will tell.