Young players have become more prominent in Major League Baseball. Properly valuing farm players' talents, timetables and opportunities will help rotisserie and head-to-head managers win their fantasy baseball leagues.
6. Mike Zunino, C, Seattle Mariners
Zunino just about ready
Zunino was taken third overall in last year's draft out of the University of Florida. He was taken high for a reason: He's extremely polished and physically developed for his age (22 on March 25). Zunino was a recipient of the Golden Spikes Award in college and led the Gators to three straight College World Series showings. He hit a combined .360 with 13 home runs and 43 RBIs in 161 at-bats between Low Single-A Everett and Double-A Jackson last year.
Zunino is an extremely rare catching talent that has the raw skills to hit for plus power and a high average in the major leagues as a middle-of-the-order run producer. His 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame gives him a thick lower half to help generate plenty of torque to drive the ball in the gaps and over fences. Surprisingly for a backstop, he's also tough to strike out thanks to his quick hands and sometimes short swing that can drive the ball to all fields. He possesses an above-average arm behind the dish and has improved the rest of his defensive skills in short order.
The Florida native is on the fast track to the bigs, and Seattle is so impressed with his overall skill set and baseball IQ, that they are hoping he becomes a big part of their plans this season, even though they have Jesus Montero and Kelly Shoppach on roster. Montero projects in the long term to become mainly a designated hitter/first baseman, and Shoppach is merely a placeholder until Zunino arrives. For those in two-catcher setups or AL-only leagues, Zunino could easily produce for you in 2013. Think Buster Posey of the American League eventually ... he has that kind of talent.
On to No. 7
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About Keith Hernandez
Keith, an editor with KFFL, joined the team as a Hot off the Wire analyst in 2008 and has been playing fantasy sports since 2005. He is involved in MLB, NFL and NASCAR content. He graduated from the University of California-San Diego in 2005 with a B.A. in Communications and was a four-year starter as a member of the baseball program.
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