Rainiers' Zunino goes yard twice

Mariners catching prospect heating up at Triple-A Tacoma

By Josh Jackson / Special to MLB.com | May 31, 2013 10:43 PM ET

Numbers might not lie, but Mike Zunino thinks they're not totally honest, either.

His recent numbers -- a .360 average, .429 on-base percentage, four home runs, six RBIs during a six-game hitting streak -- say he's put a slump behind him.

So is that the case?

"Sort of," Zunino said. "I'm still working on lots of things. I'm working on keeping things simple. Every at-bat and every batting practice, I'm working on getting just a little bit better. Things are definitely going in the right direction."

The Mariners' No. 3 prospect capped a two-homer night with a go-ahead solo shot in the ninth inning Friday as Triple-A Tacoma rallied for a 6-5 victory over Colorado Springs.

The Rainiers were down, 5-2, before Zunino hit his first homer, a leadoff blast in the sixth on a curveball from Sky Sox starter Drew Pomeranz. After a drawing a walk to set up the tying run in the seventh, MLB.com's No. 22 overall prospect watched Stefen Romero and Nate Tenbrink strike out in the ninth against reliever Logan Kensing (0-1).

"He had some great stuff. He was really good tonight, for sure," Zunino said. "And when you see him throwing like that, you have to respect that. You can't try to do too much off a pitcher like that. I wasn't trying to hit a home run, I was just going up there and trying to get on for the next guy."

Trying or not, Zunino lofted an 0-1 fastball over the left-field fence for his 11th homer of the season, moving him into a tie for second in the Pacific Coast League. It completed his second career two-homer game and first this season.

"It's an awesome feeling, especially when it comes in a meaningful game like this one," he said. "Being down and then being able to work our way out of that is important, so it was great timing."

The Rainiers wrapped up an eight-game road trip, which began on May 24 -- the same day Zunino started his hitting streak -- with five wins and three losses.

"It's been a good road trip for us," the University of Florida product said. "I knew if we could get it to the bullpen with a lead, we had a good shot of winning the game."

Zunino raced through the Mariners system last summer after he was selected third overall in the Draft. He hit .373 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs in 29 games with short-season Everett, then skipped two levels and batted .333 with three homers and eight RBIs in a 15-game stint with Double-A Jackson.

Since his average dipped to a season-low .195 on May 6, Zunino has batted .290 with six homers and 12 RBIs in 17 games. Overall, he's hitting .237 and is tied for third in the PCL with 41 RBIs.

Corey Dickerson, the Rockies' No. 16 prospect, hit his Minor League-leading 11th triple for the Sky Sox. Josh Rutledge had three hits and No. 14 prospect Charlie Culberson delivered an RBI single. For Zunino, calling a game against Colorado Springs at hitter-friendly Security Service Field was a challenge.

"They've got a great a lineup. It was one of those games where you have to pick and choose which of these guys you're going to pitch to," he said.

Romero finished 3-for-4 with an RBI, a stolen base and a walk. Brad Miller, Seattle's sixth-ranked prospect, followed Zunino's sixth-inning homer with one of his own and drove in two runs.

Josh Jackson 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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