Mike Zunino came into the 2013 as a highly touted prospect. Baseball America had him as 17th ranked prospect and here at FanGraphs, Marc Hulet ranked him 12th overall. It looked like he may spend a good portion of 2013 in the minors, but he was promoted after Jesus Sucre‘s hand got injured and the Jesus Montero experiment failed worse than the new Lone Ranger. Going into 2013, the 23-year-old power hitter looks to be the Mariners future everyday catcher if he can work out some contact issues.
Zunino debuted on June 12th and put up some somewhat disappointing numbers over the season. Here are his 2013 stats along with his 2014 Steamer Projections.
Stat: 2013, 2014 Steamer
PA: 193, 365
Runs: 22, 37
HR: 5, 11
RBI: 14, 38
AVG/OBP/SLG: .214/.290/.329, .219/.284/.370
Not exactly numbers to write home about, especially the influence the 2013 values had on his 2014 projections.
Looking back at 2013, Zunino really had two halves of his season. Only July 26th he broke a hamate bone and spent over a month on the DL. Before he went on the DL, he was hitting about as good as can be expected from a major league catcher trying to prepare for his pitchers, not alone get ready to hit. After he can back, his production dropped significantly.
|Jun 12 to Jul 25, 2013||0.242||0.315||0.343||0.306||23%||8%|
|Sep 2 to Sep 29, 2013||0.176||0.256||0.311||0.208||28%||9%|
Strikeouts up, BABIP down. Overall, not good. His first half production is probably closer to his true talent level or at least his owners hope so.
One trait he exhibited throughout the season was the ability to hit for power. In 422 PA between AAA and the majors, he hit 16 home runs. His ISO actually increased in the season’s 2nd half when the rest of his game declined.
The item of concern for me was his high strikeout rate. The high number of strikeouts is caused by his struggles with breaking pitchers. His lowest pitch type run values were against curve balls and sliders. These struggles can been further seen in his inability to contact. On pitches outside the strike zone, he only made contact 50% of the time (63% is league average). In the zone he made contact 81% of the time vice 87% for the league. For more possible evidence of his struggles, he had 29% K% and 7% BB% in AAA. The pitching in AAA is much tougher than the lower levels with pitchers throwing more and better breaking pitches. The jump in his AAA K% to lower minor values was decent (17% and 11%).
After a small sample of 2013 data, it looks like Zunino struggled in the majors. A person needs to remember he was hurt half way through the season and never really recovered. Even with the injury, he was able to hit for power. The one issue to watch to see how he improves in 2014 would be his ability to make contact with the breaking pitches he swings at. Until then, he fantasy value will be limited.
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