The accolades continue to roll in for Seattle Mariners catching prospect Mike Zunino, with Sports Illustrated ranking him as the second best prospect in the Arizona Fall League.
Zunino played on the Peoria Javelinas, and drove in two runs to help his team win the AFL Championship over the Salt River Rafters. The Mariners' 2012 first round draft pick finished the league with a .288/.337/.463 split, hitting two home runs and driving in 15 over 80 at bats.
Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated compares Zunino to Javy Lopez, the longtime Atlanta Braves catcher. Lopez owned career stats of .287/.337/.491 and averaged 21 home runs a year during his starting years with the Braves.
Zunino, who is 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds and is the son of Reds scout Greg Zunino, profiles as a catcher who can hit in the middle of the order with power and become a team leader, not unlike Buster Posey and Yadier Molina in a best-case scenario.
Zunino moved all the way up to Double-A Jacksonville last year with a .360 batting average along the way. He caught 120 games between the minor leagues and the AFL this year.
There might be room on the Mariners for Zunino next season, depending on how well he performs in spring training and whether or not the team wants to wait to control more arbitration-free years. The Mariners jettisoned catcher Miguel Olivo from the roster earlier this offseason, but still retain the services of John Jaso and Jesus Montero.