One could make the case that the Seattle Mariners should be thankful their first two catchers did not work out as it paved the way for Mike Zunino. What can the Mariners expect from the rookie as he attempts to build on his solid performance in 2014?
By no means did the 22-year-old blow away at the plate this year. With that being said, he did put forth a better offensive effort than any other catcher did for Seattle this season. His .214 batting average certainly needs some work. However, it was good to see him hit five home runs, 14 RBI and five doubles in 173 at-bats.
At this point, the Mariners have to be happy that Zunino received plenty of experience while he made the most of his unexpected opportunity in 2013.
“It was all just a learning process,” Zunino said, according to Mariners.com. “Getting an opportunity to play here was everything I dreamed of. Obviously you want to come out here and win, but you take the 50 or so games that I played and more for some of the other young guys and we just take it as a learning experience and knowing what we need to get ready for next year.”
Seattle can expect a much more mature hitter at the plate next season. At least that is where Zunino’s focus must be in the offseason. Getting more familiar with the pitchers will be something that can happen in Spring Training. The fact is he has a natural ability to understand pitchers, which is something that will be very beneficial for the Mariners.
“If I can take care of them or help them out in any way, then we can get the best performance out of them,” Zunino told Mariners.com. “If they feel comfortable and relaxed, that’s when they’re going to be their best.”
For now, it is all about improving on offense. The good news is Zunino has the potential to be a major threat at the plate. He just needs to work on seeing pitches better and making better decisions.