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M's Zunino continues hot hitting for Javelinas

Third overall pick in '12 Draft goes 3-for-5, triples twice, drives in a run

Special to
In a year of movement and change for Mike Zunino, the one constant has been his bat.

Whether at the University of Florida, short-season Everett, Double-A Jackson or, now, in the Arizona Fall League, the 21-year-old catcher has hit. His productive bat was on display again on Saturday.

Zunino went 3-for-5 with a pair of triples, an RBI and a run scored to lead the Peoria Javelinas to a 7-2 victory over the Scottsdale Scorpions. He's 4-for-13 in three Fall League games and has not hit below .300 at any stop since the Mariners made him the third overall pick in the Draft.

"[Two triples] is very rare, yeah," Zunino said. "I was just looking to get the ball elevated, been trying to get my timing down the last couple days. I'm having a blast here, great group of guys, makes it a lot of fun."

Zunino is winding down a busy year. With Florida, he won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's best collegiate player. He began his professional career by tearing up Northwest League to the tune of a .373 average, .736 slugging percentage, 10 homers and 35 RBIs in only 29 games.

The Mariners skipped him two levels, promoting him to Double-A, where he batted .333 with a .588 slugging percentage in 15 Southern League games.

The Seattle's No. 4 prospect and's 44th overall, said he's enjoyed every minute this season, seizing the opportunity and striving to improve.

"I'm having a lot of fun with it. It's just something I wanted to do," he said. "Playing every day is really fun for me and you don't have much time to think about being tired and stuff like that. I get to learn a lot about myself as a ballplayer and how I approach the game. And that helps me a lot."

As someone relatively new to pro ball, Zunino also said he values the chance to play with so many top prospects in the AFL.

"Obviously, I haven't been in pro ball too long, so to meet guys from across the Minors and play against them is fun, a good challenge," he said. "The biggest thing is getting the reps, sort of working on everything and fine-tuning your defense and approach to playing."

Reds' No. 5 prospect Didi Gregorius went 4-for-4 with a double and two runs scored for Peoria, while Nate Freiman (Padres) -- fresh off a stint with Israel in World Baseball Classic qualifying -- homered, doubled and drove in three runs.

Chris Dominguez (Giants) and Angels' No. 12 prospect Randal Grichuk homered for the Scorpions.

Reds right-hander Drew Hayes (1-0) tossed two innings of perfect relief to get the win, while Indians southpaw Matt Packer (0-1) was charged with a run on four hits over two frames.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to

Seattle Mariners, Chris Dominguez, Nate Freiman, Didi Gregorius, Randal Grichuk, Mike Zunino