Zunino joins Mariners' stockpile of catchers
Seattle Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara and three of his scouts visited with the family of University of Florida catcher Mike Zunino before the college baseball season started.
They weren't sure that Zunino, 21, was going to be their choice in the first round of the draft, but they knew it was a possibility.
On Monday, the possibility became reality. The Mariners used the third pick in the draft, their only pick on day one, to take the three-year starter for the Gators.
"There's a lot I like about Mike," McNamara said. "One is character, his integrity, the family he comes from. We talk about it all the time in our meetings. He's a winning player with character.
"Obviously, you have to have talent to be the No. 3 pick in the country. He's a good defensive catcher, he's got extra-base power, and he's a leader."
The Mariners have been stocking up on catchers. They traded with the Yankees for Jesus Montero about the same time that McNamara and Co. visited with Zunino and his family, including father, Gene, who is a scout for the Cincinnati Reds.
General manager Jack Zduriencik said that catching is about as difficult to find as any position, so an overload at the position wasn't possible.
"We'll see what happens as we go forward," Zduriencik said. "You never have enough catchers. As we know, you go through the course of the year and fortunately in our league you do have the DH. As you move forward, things happen. If you like the player, you take him and let it fall into place.
"We think this guy's a very nice receiver, we like Montero an awful lot, and they'll both be in our plans as we move forward.