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Zduriencik talks Zunino’s promotion to the Mariners

The Mariners called up their top prospect and last year's first-round pick Mike Zunino before Tuesday's game against the Astros. (AP)

By Alex Gallant

Special to

It’s only been a little over a year since Seattle drafted Mike Zunino with the third overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft.

But Tuesday afternoon, the Mariners called up their prized catching prospect, and he will now get his first taste of the big leagues.

Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik talked to reporters about the move during batting practice and noted Zunino has several skills that should translate well to the major-league level.

“Everyone likes his leadership ability and everyone likes his receiving skills (behind the plate),” Zduriencik said. “Everyone likes his maturation. He’s hit for power. The one thing to remember, and no one should have great expectations immediately, is that it’s early in his career. He’ll be a different player two years from now than he’ll be the first week up here. But that’s natural.”

His experience working with various pitching staffs throughout the Mariners organization has also been a big plus.

“When you look at the Double-A staff he handled last year, which was a pretty good staff, he had a lot of those guys in Triple-A, and look what he did in spring training – it was impressive,” Zduriencik said. “He’s continued to do that down there (in Tacoma). It’s just an opportunity presented itself and this is the guy we thought deserved (the callup) at this time.”

In response to those who suggest Zunino has been rushed to the big leagues, Zduriencik emphasized how integral major-league experience is to young players.

“The one thing you can never give someone in the minor leagues is what it’s like to be in the big leagues, the speed of the game and how quick it is,” Zduriencik said. “When they get here and experience that, some guys adapt immediately. Some guys have to go back (down) and then come back, but they always gain from that experience.

“That’s why, in this particular case, we thought it was the right thing to do for this player based on everything we talked about.”

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