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Zunino doubles in professional debut
07/15/2012 2:52 AM ET
The top two picks of this year's Draft already have made their Minor League debuts. On Saturday, No. 3 took his turn.

Mariners prospect Mike Zunino doubled, walked and scored twice in his first professional game Saturday as the short-season Everett AquaSox beat the Tri-City Dust Devils, 6-3, in the first game of a doubleheader.

The University of Florida product signed with Seattle on July 2 and received a reported $4 million bonus. He won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top amateur player four days later and had his debut pushed back a day after Friday's game was rained out.

As far as first games go, Zunino did about all you could ask. He stepped up with one out in the second inning and doubled to left field off Tri-City starter Benjamin Hughes. He trotted home on a bases-loaded walk, then walked in the third and scored ahead of David Villasuso's three-run homer.

"It was fun. It was great to have the crowd support and it was nice to go out there and just get behind the plate," Zunino told The (Everett) Herald. "It was nice to start off with a hit in my first at-bat."

AquaSox manager Rob Mummau encouraged him to swing away, leading to the early double.

"[Mummau] told me to be aggressive. I got a fastball away and I honestly didn't try to do too much with it," he told the newspaper. "That was my biggest thing today, not trying to do too much, and I was able to get one down the line there."

The 21-year-old catcher was selected behind Carlos Correa, who went to the Astros, and Byron Buxton, who was taken by the Twins. At Florida, he played in three consecutive College World Series and was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year in 2011. He belted 47 homers in three seasons in Gainesville.

This year with the Gators, he batted .322 with 19 homers and a .669 slugging percentage.

On Saturday, he said he was just trying to soak things in and play the same game he's been playing all his life.

"It's baseball to me. You have to sort of put everything in the back of your mind, the crowd and everything else," he said. "We went out there trying to win and all I'm trying to do is help the team out."

The only thing approaching a blemish came in the first when the Dust Devils' Rosell Herrera stole second against him.

Zunino also was selected by the A's in the 30th round of the 2009 Draft before electing to attend Florida. He played for Yarmouth-Dennis in the Cape Cod League last summer.

Zunino sat out the nightcap as the AquaSox completed the sweep with a 5-1 victory.



This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.