The Mariners made it official Tuesday afternoon, calling up highly touted catcher Mike Zunino after saying in the past couple of weeks they would not promote the 22-year-old University of Florida product. He was the first player taken by Seattle in the 2012 amateur draft and the third player selected overall. He was available for Tuesday night’s game against the Houston Astros.
To make room for Zunino on the roster, the Mariners designated C Brandon Bantz for assignment.
Zunino hit .238 with a .303 on-base percentage and a .503 slugging percentage with 11 home runs for the AAA Tacoma Rainiers of the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. While Zunino’s batting and on-base averages are sorely lacking, the Mariners need immediate assistance behind the plate with Jesus Sucre on the disabled list.
After the Mariners sent down original starter Jesus Montero, they brought up Sucre from Tacoma. But his left hand was struck on a backswing and is on the disabled list. The starting job fell to Kelly Shoppach, who was never supposed be a daily starter, and has been over-worked in the past 10 games. They brought up Bantz, who has appeared in one game, a start June 8 against the New York Yankees. He went 0-for-2. The Mariners now have 10 days to trade, release or outright Bantz’s contract to the minors.
Shoppach is batting .202 with a .300 on-base percentage. Sucre hit .192 in the eight games he played.
Zunino will become the first position player from Seattle’s 2012 draft class to reach the big leagues.
Zunino has played just 91 minor league games and will arrive in the majors almost exactly one year after the Mariners drafted him.