Zunino stands out for Florida
March, 20, 2012
By Keith Law | ESPN Insider
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireFlorida catcher Mike Zunino is solidifying his status as an early first-round pick.I saw Florida host Vanderbilt on Saturday under the broiler at McKetchan Field, and Florida's top three draft prospects for this year all played well, led by catcher Mike Zunino. He is one of the top two college position players in this draft, along with Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero; both play premium positions in the middle of the field and project to stay there in pro ball while providing above-average offense for their positions.
Zunino's swing isn't entirely conventional, but it works. He has a slight drift but keeps his weight back enough to drive the ball; his real asset at the plate is his hands, strong and quick, giving him the ability to go to all fields, and, combined with good leverage from proper hip rotation, at least future-average power. Vanderbilt didn't have the baserunners to test Zunino's arm, but his throws in infield practice and warm-ups showed enough strength for him to stay behind the plate, and he had no trouble receiving the heavy diet of off-speed stuff served up by Brian Johnson. It also looked as if Zunino and Johnson were calling the game themselves -- Zunino didn't look into the dugout to get the signs -- which would be a positive for both players if correct. Zunino's approach is sound, and even if he ends up with average hit and power tools, that's an above-average major league regular behind the plate. He's a lock to go in the top five picks.