BLUF: Star-level catcher with defense, hitting ability, power and excellent leadership. Top five pick in the draft.
The Player: Mike Zunino (C, University of Florida) – One of the top players in college baseball. Zunino is the reigning SEC Player of the Year, coming off of a sophomore campaign where he hit .371 with 19 home runs, 23 doubles and 67 runs batted in. So far this year Zunino has continued to rake through 21 games. He has a .392/.456/.770 line with seven doubles and seven home runs, while walking nearly as much as he has struck out (11 vs. 13).
Basis of Report: Personal Observation (Cape Cod League 2011), Industry Contacts
Body (6-2, 220): Excellent build with good muscularity and flexibility. Thick build that screams catcher and durability. Works hard to maintain his body.
Hit: Excellent balance throughout swing. Shifts weight slightly to back leg to load and triggers hands consistently as the pitcher starts toward the plate. Simple, compact path to the hitting zone with explosive bat speed. Has learned to stay back on the ball and work the other way, improving his ability to hit breaking balls and change-ups. Has solid feel for the barrel with some ability to adjust mid-pitch. Doesn’t have much swing and miss but will need to evolve against better breaking balls in pro ball. Has plenty of hit projection given bat speed, hand-eye coordination and natural feel for his swing. Huge fan of the swing. Believe he could approach .300 at his peak. Grade – 40/70
Power: Plenty of strength and plus-plus bat speed. Ability to drive the ball to all fields and get it over the fence. Doesn’t have a ton of loft or leverage in his swing but should still have average home-run power. Wears out the gaps and has potential to hit 30+ doubles a year. Added loft in swing is possible but may come with a little less contact. Grade (raw power) – 40/50
Arm: Quick release with smooth transfer from glove to hand. Gets rid of the ball quickly. Ball comes out of his hand cleanly and almost appears to throw “down” to second base. Easy plus arm strength with good accuracy. Grade – 60/60
Fielding: Tons of improvement over the last three years. Good receiver that knows how to frame pitches and help his pitchers. Reads hitters well and shows some aptitude for calling a game. Good blocker that is aggressive behind the plate with good movements and solid athleticism. Excellent leader that commands the pitching staff and gets the most from his pitchers. Could still improve consistency with receiving and blocking, which should come easily with pro instruction. Potential impact defender. Grade – 50/60
Speed: Runs pretty well for a catcher but will likely slow down as he matures and gets more innings behind the plate. Fringe-average runner now that can get to average once underway. Projects to be below average. Grade – 50/40
Summation: Potential plus defender with receiving, throwing and leadership ability. Should be a standout defender long term. Has excellent feel for hitting and a good concept of the strike zone. Makes easy hard contact and has started to use the whole field better. Will need minimal adjustments to hit as a pro and should hit right out of the gate. Power has some projection though I see him as more of a big doubles hitter with average home run pop. Star potential that contributes in every facet on the field and is a leader off the field.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Borderline “low” risk level. Injury risk of all catchers keeps him in the moderate zone. Has easy hit and defensive projection that should make him a big league starter.
Draft Projection: No doubt top catcher in the draft. Could go in the top two or three picks and teams might reach for him because of positional scarcity and his rare blend of skills.