The Seattle Mariners may get faced with a difficult decision during the 2012 MLB draft. There is an elite catcher available in this draft, and I think that the Mariners may need to select him with the No. 3 overall selection.
Due to another terrible season (2011), the Mariners get a very high selection in this year's draft. It comes with a lot of pressure, especially for an organization that has been playing terribly at the major league level. I am just one of many fans of the team that want to see them go after a good offensive prospect with the first round selection.
Two players really jump out from this draft class, and I feel that the Mariners need to either select Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton or University of Florida catcher Mike Zunino. Either the Minnesota Twins or Houston Astros could select Buxton with the first two picks, but if he is still on the board, I hope that the Mariners grab him.
Now, I realize that the Mariners got burned before by drafting catchers that didn't pan out and that the team just gave up Michael Pineda to get Jesus Montero. What I really like about Zunino is that he combines the power hitting that Montero provides with a great set of defensive skills at the position. He is already getting classified as a catcher with plus catching and throwing skills, raising his value if Zunino can hit for power against big league pitching.
I really think the Mariners need to draft him, plan for him to become the catcher of the future for the franchise and move Montero to first base permanently when Zunino is ready to go. Zunino also seems like he is further along than some of the other offensive prospects in the draft, meaning he might not spend a lot of time getting seasoning in the minor leagues.
There are other prospects like outfielder Albert Almora and shortstop Carlos Correa that I wouldn't mind the team selecting, but it's not very often that an elite level catching prospect comes along like this. Even if Montero works out for the Mariners as a catcher, Zunino would become a great trade chip down the line.
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*Ryan is a lifelong Seattle Mariners fan who never misses an opportunity to attend a game at Safeco Field. He has been attending games since 1985, and has fond memories of The Kingdome, Edgar Martinez, and the historic 1995 team. Sodo Mojo!