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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

July 3, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Earlier signing date benefits top picks like Mike Zunino

zuninosafeco2.jpg

(I might rue the day I ever agreed to do this. But it’s for charity, so I don’t mind making a fool of myself. Too much. By the way, I voted for Shockey. A prohibitive favorite).

Here’s Mike Zunino and his fiancee, Alyssa Barry, doing the Safeco Field photo op today. The Mariners’ top draft pick, introduced today at a press conference, is going to take BP in a bit.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for Zunino since his University of Florida Gators got eliminated early in the College World Series. After a short break, he flew from Gainesville to Wichita to Lubbock, Texas to accept various awards, then flew to Seattle in time to catch the past two Mariners games, see a bit of the city and take a physical. Tomorrow, he leaves with his parents (who were at the press conference), fiancee and Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara to New York to attend the Golden Spikes awards ceremony. Then it’s off to Kansas City to be recognized at the major-league All-Star Game.

Then, finally, he’ll return to Washington state and join the Everett Aqua Sox. Jack Zduriencik wouldn’t speculate on whether Zunino might move up to a higher league before the year is out. But just the fact that he’s playing at all is a welcome change. In past years, when the signing deadline was Aug. 15, most top draft picks went down to the wire, which made it too late for them to get minor-league experience until the following season. With a July 13 deadline, players are getting signed earlier, which benefits everyone. The Mariners have signed 32 of their 41 draft picks. The only top pick not signed is eighth-rounder Nick Halamandaris, a high school first baseman from Monterey, Calif. Also unsigned is 30th-rounder Mike Yastrzemski out of Vanderbilt, who was expected all along to return to college for his senior year, and their picks from the 34th through the 40th round.

“It’s great,” Zduriencik said. “You look at the number of guys we have already signed, that signed within the first week. I do think the new CBA had an awful lot to do with that. With this particular player (Zunino), he was wanted to get out and play. Mike was like, I’m ready to go. You took me three in the country, and I’m ready to go and start my career. The fact we have them for a month and a half is different than the past. Usually, we’re waiting until Aug. 15 and we don’t see the kid until the instructional league. Right now, he’s going to get a month and a half under his belt, and we’ll see what happens in the fall.

McNamara called the earlier signing date, “Very beneficial. We’ve signed 32 players. These guys are already out. Some of them have gotten three, four weeks under their belt already, which is great. It will be easier for us to evaluate them. Their path to the big leagues will be quicker. For me, personally, in August and late July, I’m going to start going out to all the major showcases – Cape Cod, Afflac, Area Code games. Last year, it was bits and pieces, and I had to catch up in the fall, and really catch up in the spring. I’ll get a better feel for the guys next year, because I don’t have to wait until Aug. 15, which is great for us.

“This year, especially the college juniors, hey, why wait? If you’re going to get the same bonus you’re getting in a month, why wait around? If you want to play pro ball, here’s your chance. Then it will make it easier for all of us to decide who goes to instructional league, winter ball, co-op league, Arizona Fall League. I think MLB has a W here.”

Here is a list of Mariner draft picks, with the unsigned picks in bold face:

1 Mike Zunino C R-R 6-1 220 21 University of Florida Cape Coral, FL

2 Joe DeCarlo SS R-R 5-10 205 18 Garnet Valley High School Glen Mills, PA

3 Edwin Diaz RHP R-R 6-2 160 18 Caguas Military Academy Naguabo, Puerto Rico

3A Tyler Pike LHP L-L 6-0 180 18 Winter Haven High School Winter Haven, FL

4 Patrick Kivlehan 3B R-R 6-2 211 22 Rutgers University West Nyack, NY

5 Chris Taylor SS R-R 6-0 170 22 University of Virginia Virginia Beach, VA

6 Tim Lopes SS R-R 5-11 180 17 Edison High School Huntington Beach, CA

7 Taylor Ard 1B R-R 6-1 235 22 Washington State Univ. Vancouver, WA

8 Nick Halamandaris 1B L-L 6-2 220 18 Robert Louis Stevenson HS Monterey, CA9 Jamodrick McGruder 2B L-R 5-8 175 20 Texas Tech University Mesquite, TX

10 Grady Wood RHP R-R 6-1 195 22 Western Oregon State Junction City, OR

11 Kristian Brito 1B R-R 6-5 240 17 Ramon Quinones Medina Yabucoa, Puerto Rico

12 Michael Faulkner CF L-L 5-9 165 20 Arkansas State University Memphis, TN

13 Blake Hauser RHP R-R 6-2 180 21 Virginia Commonwealth Moseley, VA

14 Brock Hebert 2B R-R 5-9 170 21 Southeastern Louisiana Bourg, LA

15 Dario Pizzano RF L-R 5-9 200 21 Columbia University Saugus, MA

16 Dominic Leone RHP R-R 5-11 195 20 Clemson University Norwich, CT

17 Isaiah Yates RF R-L 5-9 185 17 Clovis East High School Clovis, CA

18 Jabari Henry RF R-R 6-1 200 21 Florida International Univ. Orlando, FL

19 Nate Koneski LHP R-L 6-0 185 22 College of the Holy Cross North Dighton, MA

20 Steven Ewing LHP L-L 6-1 219 20 University of Miami Orlando, FL

21 Scott DeCecco LHP R-L 6-0 180 21 University of SC Upstate Cape May Court House, NJ

22 Gabrial Franca SS R-R 5-11 160 18 John W. North High School Riverside, CA

23 Levi Dean RHP R-R 6-4 225 22 Tennessee Wesleyan Col. Centralia, WA

24 Matt Vedo RHP R-R 6-3 205 22 UC Santa Barbara Colusa, CA

25 Mark Bordonaro RHP L-R 6-0 170 21 Fairfield University Berlin, CT

26 Aaron Brooks RHP R-R 6-6 210 20 Edmonds Community Col. Mountlake Terrace, WA

27 Blake Holovach LHP L-L 6-5 195 21 University of Missouri Overland Park, KS

28 Matt Brazis RHP R-R 6-3 200 22 Boston College Tampa, FL

29 Toby Demello C R-R 6-1 241 22 St. Mary’s College of CA Roseville, CA

30 Mike Yastrzemski RF L-L 6-0 180 21 Vanderbilt University Andover, MA31 Rusty Shellhorn LHP L-L 5-10 185 22 Texas Tech University Liberty Lake, WA

32 Richard Palase 2B R-R 5-11 195 21 Lynchburg College Staten Island, NY

33 Logan Seifrit RHP R-R 5-11 185 17 Vauxhall High School Vauxhall, Alberta, Canada

34 Alex Ross C L-R 6-1 190 21 Bellevue Community College Kirkland, WA

35 Tyler Krieger SS S-R 6-1 165 18 Northview High School Johns Creek, GA

36 Anthony Wingenter RHP R-R 6-7 190 18 Bob Jones High School Madison, AL

37 Brett Lilek RHP R-R 6-4 185 18 Marian Catholic High School South Holland, IL

38 Richard Martin SS R-R 5-10 174 17 Bloomingdale Sr. High School Brandon, FL

39 Grayson Long RHP R-R 6-5 200 18 Barbers Hill High School Mont Belvieu, TX

40 James Kaprielian RHP R-R 6-3 190 18 Beckman High School Tustin, CA

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