Tuesday July 3, 2012UF Baseball's Mike Zunino Agrees With Seattle Mariners
Gator standout catcher Mike Zunino (Cape Coral, Fla.), the third overall pick in the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft, came to terms on a contract with the Seattle Mariners on Monday night. He will be introduced at a press conference at Safeco Field that can be viewed on www.mariners.com beginning at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
The highest draft pick in school history, the 2012 Dick Howser Trophy and Johnny Bench Award winner will forgo his final year of eligibility at the University of Florida. Zunino’s signing means that seven of nine players taken from head coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s club in June’s Draft have now inked deals.
Zunino, a consensus first-team All-American, the first Dick Howser Trophy recipient from Florida, Baseball America’s 2012 College Player of the Year and the initial Johnny Bench Award winner from UF, is one of three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award that will be presented this Friday, July 6. He finished as the Gators’ “Triple Crown” winner, leading the team in batting average (.322), RBI (67) and homers (19), and paced the Orange and Blue in total bases (164), doubles (28), sacrifice flies (11) and slugging percentage (.669). He was also 9-for-10 on the basepaths. According to the final NCAA statistics, Zunino was first nationally in sacrifice flies, third in doubles, fourth in round-trippers, fifth in total bases, ninth in doubles per game,10th in RBI and 11th in slugging percentage.
A two-time, first-team All-SEC recipient and two-time member of the league’s All-Defensive Team, the three-year starter registered a .994 fielding percentage in his final campaign, with three errors in 510 chances, and threw out 20 runners who attempted to steal on him.
Zunino was voted to the NCAA Gainesville Regional All-Tournament Team for the third-consecutive season after belting homers in consecutive games against No. 24 Georgia Tech and he led the Gators with a .500 (4-for-8) clip in the pair of victories over NC State that punched Florida’s return ticket to Omaha for its third-straight appearance at the NCAA College World Series. He was 8-for-25 (.320) during the NCAA Tourney with team highs in slugging percentage (.720), RBI (12) and homers (3).
In 2011, he became just the second Gator to be voted the SEC Player of the Year, as Matt LaPorta had been recognized in 2005 and 2007. One of the three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, Zunino was chosen as a first-team All-American by the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), Baseball America and Perfect Game, earned second-team honors from Louisville Slugger and was a third-team choice by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). He was also first-team All-SEC and a member of the SEC All-Defensive Team.
Zunino hit a team-best .371 and led the SEC in total bases (178), hits (98), runs (75), doubles (23, tied with teammate Preston Tucker) and homers (19) in helping the Gators finish as the national runner-up following their second-consecutive trip to the NCAA College World Series for the first time in school history. He also paced UF’s offense in slugging percentage (.674), on-base percentage (.442), multiple-hit games (29) and multi-RBI games (19, tied with Tucker) and had career-highs in RBI (67) and walks (32). The catcher batted .422 in SEC play, with 36 runs, 33 RBI, 14 doubles and eight homers.
As a rookie in 2010, Zunino was chosen to Baseball America’s Freshman All-America Team and was a member of the SEC’s All-Freshman Team. He started 51 games behind the plate and one as the designated hitter and hit .267 with 41 RBI, 31 runs, nine homers and seven doubles in 55 games played as the Gators made their first CWS appearance since 2005. He was 8-for-11 on the basepaths, caught 14-of-38 runners attempting to steal and had three pickoffs.
During his spectacular collegiate career, in which he became the first Gator catcher to be voted as a first-team All-American twice, Zunino batted .327 in 193 games, including 188 starts. His total of 17 sacrifice flies matches Mario Linares’ (1988-91) for the most by a UF player, he ranks fourth on the school’s all-time list in both doubles (58) and homers (47), occupies sixth in slugging percentage (.620) and RBI (175) and rates seventh in total bases (425). He also totaled 224 hits, scored 159 runs, drew 72 walks and was 24-of-30 on stolen-base attempts. Zunino’s sterling fielding percentage of .995 is second on the school’s career chart, as well as his 1,340 putouts, and he committed just eight errors in 1,473 total chances. The Gators have posted a 147-56 (.724) record over the past three seasons, the top three-year performance in the program’s existence.