Rainiers' Zunino climbing out of slump

Mariners prospect goes 3-for-3, homers in road loss to Aces

By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com | May 24, 2013 10:34 PM ET

There's a line in the baseball classic "Bull Durham" about how all it really takes is one extra hit a week over the course of a season to make the difference between a .250 hitter and a .300 hitter.

There's not much of a difference between the eye-popping numbers Mike Zunino put up in his Minor League debut last year and the more modest line he has this season, except for a missing hit or two a week.

On Friday night, he started picking up some of those hits.

The Mariners' No. 3 prospect, went 3-for-3 with homer, double, walk and two runs scored to snap out of a 3-for-22 slump as Triple-A Tacoma dropped an 8-5 decision at Reno.

The third overall pick in last year's Draft hit .360/.447/.689 over the first 44 games of his career, split between short-season Everett and Double-A Jackson. While Zunino's .231/.301/.522 line through 35 Pacific Coast League games seems like a marked departure from his blazing start last year, there's only one real glaring difference.

His isolated on-base percentage last year (.087) and isolated slugging percentage (.329) aren't too far off from this year's ISO OBP (.070) and ISO SLG (.291), especially when the more advanced competition of Triple-A is taken into account.

And Zunino said he's starting to get back to the point where he's making more consistently hard contact at the plate.

"In the past week or so, the results haven't been there, but I have felt a lot more comfortable," he said. "It's one of those things where you just keep trusting what you're doing and eventually the results will come. You stay patient throughout it, stick to what you're doing and more days like today will come.

"It's one of those things where I've just been trying to piece together good at-bats, work on some stuff, and it was one of those days where everything falls into place. You try to use it for some momentum."

According to Zunino, there were some mechanical issues in his swing he was still ironing out -- getting his foot down a little earlier, recognizing pitches a little better -- but he was optimistic Friday's effort was a sign that the results would return.

"I've hit some balls well, just right at people," the University of Florida product said. "A lot of it is just pitch selection. You wanna try to swing at better pitches and recognize stuff. I want to be able to get to the box and slow everything down, almost set the pace of the at-bat and be able to dig in, feel comfortable. And that comes with putting good swings on the ball, hitting balls hard, and hopefully you get back to that zone."

The homer was Zunino's eighth, putting him in a tie for fourth in the PCL. MLB.com's No. 22 overall prospect also ranks fourth with 36 RBIs.

Mariners No. 4 prospect Nick Franklin chipped in two hits and raised his average to .321 in 38 games for the Rainiers.

Willie Bloomquist drove in four runs for the Aces, while Tony Campana went 3-for-4 with a triple, two RBIs and three runs scored.

D-backs No. 9 prospect Zeke Spruill left after 2 2/3 innings and 40 pitches. He was charged with two runs on four hits and a walk.

Jonathan Raymond is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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