Round 1 – No. 3
Mike Zunino, C
Height: 6’2″ – Weight: 220 lbs.
B/T: R/R – Class: Junior
Following an explosive sophomore campaign in which he won the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year award and made scouts around the professional baseball landscape take notice, Florida Gators catcher Mike Zunino continued mashing the ball and playing stellar defense throughout his junior season. That commitment to excellence is why he was considered the consensus best catcher in amateur baseball and was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the first round of the 2012 MLB Draft by the Seattle Mariners on Monday.
Being chosen No. 3 overall, Zunino becomes the highest-drafted player in team history, surpassing right-handed pitcher John Burke who was picked No. 6 overall in 1991. He is also UF’s seventh first-round draft choice in the regular June draft, 13th first-round pick overall* and first player to earn that honor since first baseman Matt LaPorta in 2007.
After a terrific sophomore season in which he hit .371 with 19 homers, 67 RBIs and 32 walks, Zunino has continued to make major contact posting a .316 average with 18 homers, 60 RBIs and 28 walks already this season. He led the SEC in average, homers, hits (98), runs (75), total bases (178) and doubles (23) as a sophomore and also led Florida in slugging percentage (.674) and on-base percentage (.442) that year. Zunino currently leads the Gators in homers, RBIs, total bases (154), doubles (27), sacrifice flies (9) and slugging percentage (.667).
He is also fielding his position at an outstanding .994 clip with only three errors this season, making him the top defensive catcher in the draft as well.
Zunino, a back-to-back finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, is the first Gators player selected by the Mariners since outfielder Gavin Dickey (12th round) and right-handed pitcher Bryan Ball (27th round) were both chosen in 2006. He holds the Florida team record for sacrifice flies (17) and is expected to be a consensus first-team All-American by the time the rest of the honors are announced this season.
He will sign a contract worth approximately $5.2 million as slotted by MLB.
* Burke was selected with a first-round pick twice (1991, 1992). Florida has also had six players selected with first-round picks in “secondary” MLB drafts held only for previously-drafted players, which have been discontinued since 1987.