Blowers: No reason for Mariners to rush Zunino
By Alex Bigelow
Special to 710Sports.com
Former big-leaguer and current Mariners broadcaster Mike Blowers left no room for ambiguity in his response when asked when he believes Mike Zunino should be called up from Triple-A Tacoma.
“September,” Blowers told “Bob and Groz” on Tuesday.
Despite the well-documented woes of 23-year-old catcher Jesus Montero amplifying the outcry for Zunino, Blowers thinks making a rash decision to call up the third overall pick from the 2012 draft would be unwise.
“I don’t see what the rush is to get him here,” Blowers said. “I’d rather him have a lot of success (in Triple-A) and feel like he has earned his way up here.”
It’s important to note that Zunino has only played in 68 minor-league games since he was drafted as a 21-year-old junior from the University of Florida. Better yet, he’s only had 297 plate appearances between his brief stints in Single-A Everett, Double-A Jackson and now Tacoma.
Zunino, in large part, has done his job and done it well.
In 29 games last year for Everett, he hit .373 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs. His stint in Jackson lasted only 15 games, but his .333 average with three home runs and five RBIs earned him a promotion to start this season.
All early indicators coming from Tacoma were overwhelmingly positive about Zunino. Through six games he had already hit four home runs while driving in 17 – both league leaders at the time.
As scorching a start as that was, the star-prospect came down to earth, and then some.
Entering Wednesday’s game, Zunino is hitting .220 with 29 RBIs and five home runs. The past 10 games have been very much an indicator that although talented, he still needs more seasoning, evidenced by his .162 batting average and 13 strikeouts in 37 at-bats.
“He is the future of this club – I don’t think there is any doubt about that – so why not let him play a full season in Triple-A,” Blowers said. “Let him get his numbers, and let him have a lot of success and gain his confidence there before you have to rush him up here.”