Cheney Free Press -


Staff Reporter 

Promoting a prospect early is a bad choice

Write to the Point


Let’s take a quick detour from the political scandals of today and focus on something that will take precedence for decades to come: the Seattle Mariners’ call-up of their top prospect, catcher Mike Zunino.

Zunino, when called up this Tuesday, was hitting a rock solid batting average of .230 in AAA Tacoma. It’s well-known that any baseball player will drop in average when graduating to the next level of play, so most Mariners fans should expect around .210 or closer to .200 from him. Of course, that would mean Zunino would have a better batting average than 90 percent of the other Mariners bats.

Let’s be honest, this year marks another baseball season of continuous struggle and pain in Seattle. Since 2004, this team has floundered in the waters of quality baseball performance, and are way off course from their projected rebuilding destination, losing any credence the team’s name might suggest.

To no one’s surprise, the team’s winning percentage is way under .500 this year, and it’s quite possible we might see a repeat of 2008 where managers and general managers were told to walk the plank.

Calling up Zunino from the AAA level is just a face-saving move for yet another painful year of baseball blunders. This offseason alone, the decision to sign an aging Raul Ibanez, place trust in Aaron Harang to act as a No. 3 starter and choose Jason Bay (who admittedly has since proven to be quite good) over a young, promising outfielder deserves plenty of ridicule. Don’t forget the disaster that was the Doug Fister trade a few years ago, practically giving away an excellent No. 2 starter for piecemeal players.

Zunino is an incredibly talented player, and is definitely the future catcher for this ball club. He’ll be good. But in the middle of a season that’s already lost, why call him up and endanger his learning? Apparently this club hasn’t learned anything from the mishandling of Justin Smoak, who was similarly rushed to the majors by the Texas Rangers.

The team’s top major league prospects in Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero were all demoted to AAA a while ago, which should raise concerns about this franchise’s ability to groom real talent. While many fans, including myself, had hope that this season would bring a .500 season into reach for the Mariners, it appears otherwise.

But, baseball is a funny sport. You never know which way the winds will blow. Zunino could well be the turning point for this team, bringing it up from the grave. Unfortunately, given past indicators, that’s likely anything from what will really happen.

Here’s wishing you the best of luck, Mike Zunino. This ball club is counting on you.


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