By Nick Patterson The News Tribune
EVERETT — When the Everett AquaSox returned home Sunday from their eight-game road trip, they did so without star catcher Mike Zunino. Zunino, taken third overall in this year’s amateur draft by the Seattle Mariners, was promoted to Class AA Jackson last Monday.
But Zunino left a considerable impression during his month with the Sox.
“We weren’t sure how long he was going to be here,” Everett manager Rob Mummau said. “We were just happy to have him here for four weeks. He did a great job.”
Zunino was a sensation during his short stay with the Sox. In 29 games he batted .373 with 10 home runs and 35 RBI. Going into Sunday he was still tied for the league lead in homers, despite having played less than half as many games as the two players he was tied with, and if he had enough plate appearances he would be the runaway league leader in batting, on-base percentage (.474), slugging average (.736) and OPS (1.210).
“Good,” was Mummau’s description of Zunino’s time with Everett, said with a heavy dose of understatement. “He was here four weeks and was player of the week three weeks. He was a great guy in the clubhouse, a leader on the field, had big power. He did everything we expected.”
Zunino skipped two levels in being promoted to Class AA, yet he picked up with Jackson right where he left off in Everett. In his first four games with the Generals he was 5-for-12 (.417) with a double and a homer.
Zunino’s quick success at Jackson is no surprise to Mummau.
“I think he’ll do well right away,” Mummau said. “He came from a good college program (the University of Florida), played in SEC and saw a lot of good competition there. I think he’ll be more than fine in double-A.”
And will it be long before we begin seeing Zunino strap on the gear at Safeco Field in Seattle?
“I don’t know,” Mummau said. “Hopefully not too long. He has some things to work on, like everybody, but hopefully he’ll get there soon.”
Zunino wasn’t the only player promoted while the team was on the road. Starting pitcher Rusty Shellhorn was promoted Saturday to Clinton of the mid-Class A Midwest League.
Shellhorn’s promotion was his second since being selected by the Mariners in the 31st round of this year’s draft. The left-hander was called up to Everett after dominating the Appalachian League. He wasn’t as dominant with Everett, but still gave the Sox six solid starts, going 3-2 with a 2.76 ERA, walking seven and striking out 32 in 32 2/3 innings.
Meanwhile, the Sox added two promising young players to the roster.
Catcher Christian Carmichael was promoted from Peoria of the rookie Arizona League after batting .319 in 31 games. The 20-year-old from Mililani, Hawaii, who was Seattle’s sixth-round pick in the 2010 draft, went 5-for-13 in his first three games with the Sox.
Center fielder James Zamarripa arrived after a brief stint with Clinton. The 18-year-old from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., was Seattle’s sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft. He went 6-for-21 in his first six games with the Sox.
Opponent: Eugene Emeralds
When: 7:05 p.m.
Where: Everett Memorial Stadium
Radio: KRKO (1380 AM)
Probable starters: Everett left-hander Steven Ewing (3-1, 5.09 ERA) vs. Eugene right-hander Justin Hancock (5-2, 1.797)