At this point last year, most people would have thought that Jesus Montero would have been considered the Seattle Mariners catcher of the future, but with the selection of Golden Spikes award-winning catcher Mike Zunino with the No. 3 overall selection in the 2012 draft, plans have obviously changed.
Zunino is now touted as the catcher of the future, but many people forget that the Mariners drafted another catcher in 2011 — John Hicks out of the University of Virginia. Hicks was drafted in the fourth round and was figured to be a package deal with college teammate Danny Hultzen, but Hicks has actually performed very well in two minor league seasons in the Mariners organization.
In 2012, Hicks hit for an impressive average of .312, with 15 home runs and drove in 79 runs in 538 plate appearances with the Single-A High Desert Mavericks. He also displayed a very strong and accurate arm, throwing out 54 percent of potential base stealers last year.
With this impressive performance, Hicks earned a spot in MLB camp for the first time as a non-roster invitee. Hicks has enjoyed learning from an experienced veteran catcher like Kelly Shoppach in camp. Hicks has not seen very much time in spring training games, but he has taken advantage of his limited at-bats, with six hits in ten plate appearances.
He may not be a highly-regarded prospect like Zunino, but if Hicks continues to perform at a high level, he has potential to create a log jam behind the plate and force the Mariners organization to have to make some very tough decisions in the future.