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Zunino continues to taste early success
M's top pick goes 4-for-5, extends RBI streak to eight games
08/12/2012 3:33 AM ET
Mike Zunino has a 1.119 OPS in his first 28 games with the AquaSox.
Mike Zunino has a 1.119 OPS in his first 28 games with the AquaSox. (Shari Sommerfeld/MiLB.com)
It's pretty obvious that Mike Zunino is getting the hang of this professional baseball thing.

The third overall pick in this year's Draft extended his RBI streak to eight games Saturday night, going 4-for-5 and driving in four runs to lead short-season Everett to a 6-5 triumph at Spokane.

Zunino homered in his fifth consecutive multi-hit game, showing again he hasn't missed a beat since signing with the Mariners for a $4 million bonus and making his Northwest League debut on July 14.

The 21-year-old catcher has hit safely in 22 of 28 games while reaching base in 26 of those contests. He's already been named Northwest League Player of the Week twice.

Zunino won the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top amateur player, but he said he didn't want to come in with the attitude that anything would come easy.

"I didn't expect much. I knew I wanted to come out here and compete, play every day and what happens, happens," he said. "I've been working hard and hoping it pays off. It's one of those things where I'm not really looking at it as success.

"I go up there with a plan in [batting practice], try to work on using the whole field and use that every game. I haven't really worried about the results, it's more about quality at-bats. But I'm seeing the ball well and it's been kicking the last few days."

After his first four-hit game as a pro, Zunino is batting .377 with nine homers, 32 RBIs, a .472 on-base percentage and .726 slugging percentage. He also has almost as many walks (16) as strikeouts (23).

"It's a learning process," the University of Florida product said. "I take every at-bat to learn my zone, learn my swing a little better, see how guys are attacking me. I'm trying to learn every day."

Zunino came to the plate in the ninth inning, needing a triple to hit for the cycle. He was aware he was within reach of the feat but wanted to maintain a consistent approach and not think about that sort of thing.

"I went up there and just wanted to have a good at-bat," he said. "On nights like tonight, where you have a few hits, you can get distracted. And I didn't want to do that. And looking at the park, I didn't know where I could have even hit it for a triple. I would have had to rattle one off the wall or something like that."

Roughly a month into his professional career, Zunino is starting to understand what it takes play baseball, day in and day out.

"It's just keeping the same attitude, no matter whether you had a great day or a bad day," he said. "Regardless of how you do at the plate, the next day is a new day and you have to come with the same attitude, ready to work, ready to get better every day."

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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