The not so long wait is apparently over.
According to numerous reports by the beat writers, and as initially broken above on Twitter by Larry Stone, the Mariners are recalling Mike Zunino from the minor leagues and he will be in uniform for them tonight as they take on the Houston Astros in game two of a three game set.
Tonight is game No. 66 for Seattle, and they currently sit at 28 up and 37 down, in third place in the American League West a full 11 games back of division leading Texas. This move is about the future somewhat -- and the current front office is banking on Zunino being a huge part of that future -- but it is also about 2013. The Mariners simply aren't getting enough offense out of many positions in their lineup, and the starter by default right now, veteran Kelly Shoppach, has had too much of the action behind the plate forced on him with the way the rest of the catchers have broken down. I don't believe that anyone in Seattle has dreams of the club making the post season, but climbing in the standings could potentially save a number of people their jobs.
I do believe that everyone wanted to avoid pulling the trigger too soon on Zunino, but when Jesus Sucre got injured and Brandon Bantz was initially recalled, the writing was on the wall that this was going to happen soon. The writing has actually been on the wall ever since Jesus Montero was sent down to Triple-A to learn how to do something other than catch. Before the season many had estimated that Zunino would be up by mid-June. Well, mid-June is here, so, voila.
Did he earn this promotion you ask? It is easy to say that, no, he hasn't. Despite starting to put more hits together, he hasn't exactly been on a hot streak of late and is hitting just .238/.303/.503 in 47 games for the Rainiers. And even though he is showing signs over the past three to four weeks of making adjustments, he still has 59 strikeouts on the year and his 28.4% strikeout percentage is worse than all but three qualified hitters in the PCL this year. He hasn't hit a lick at home (.135/.210/.236) and he's slugging just .276 in June (in only seven games), but the position that he is coming up to play also isn't exactly playing like world beaters right now.
Seattle catchers are hitting a combined .206/.278/.329 on the year, that OPS representing the 4th worst mark of the 30 MLB teams. They've also allowed the 6th most steals in baseball (44) and have allowed the 4th most wild pitches (30) in the league. For all of his struggles offensively -- adjusting to being attacked almost exclusively with offspeed pitches or fastballs out of the zone -- Zunino has made great strides on defense and has long been lauded for his leadership on the field and ability to call a game.
Of course the worries are about starting his service clock to an extent, but more than that the worries -- which I believe are warranted -- stem from the past failure of Jesus Montero, of Dustin Ackley and of Justin Smoak. The fanbase -- the franchise -- can't take another failed prospect. The fans can't and won't wait much longer for things to get better.
So hopefully for the sake of not only Zunino, but for the whole franchise and the fans, Zunino can adjust on the fly and show that he indeed does deserve to be in the major leagues.
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