Mike Zunino

MLB draft picks 2-5: Mariners take catcher Mike Zunino

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No. 2 – Minnesota Twins – high school OF Byron Buxton

The Astros pulled off a surprise pick and left Mark Appel on the board, but the Twins stuck with the guy most expected them to take. Buxton, 18, is a pure center fielder with a big-time arm — he just had an 18-strikeout game as a pitcher — but he’s a raw hitter with a long swing that needs some shortening up. Again, there’s an awful lot of upside here, and his defense could make him a major leaguer even if he doesn’t hit as much as hoped. Still, he’s not going to move quickly.

No. 3 – Seattle Mariners – Florida catcher Mike Zunino

The Mariners obviously aren’t sold on Jesus Montero as a long-term catcher. Zunino has a very good glove and will definitely stay behind the plate. His bat probably won’t be good enough t make him a star, though he was the best power hitter on the top-ranked Gators this season, batting .318/.388/.667 with 18 homers in 231 at-bats. He could contribute as soon as 2014.

No. 4 – Baltimore Orioles – LSU RHP Kevin Gausman

The Orioles apparently thought Gausman, not Appel, was the top college pitcher on the board. They wanted someone who was going to be ready quickly, and Gausman doesn’t lack for polish. The 21-year-old was 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA and a 128/27 K/BB ratio in 115 2/3 innings for LSU this season. He probably won’t start games for the Orioles this season, but if the team remains in the race, he’d be an intriguing relief option down the stretch.

No. 5 – Kansas City Royals – San Francisco RHP Kyle Zimmer

The Royals also bypassed Appel. Zimmer has the better fastball, touching 97 mph at times, and with his plus curve, he probably possesses superior upside to the Stanford right-hander. How quickly he moves will depend on the progress he makes with his changeup. He’s definitely not as far along with his third pitch as either Appel or Gausman.

Pick 1: Astros select shortstop Carlos Correa                          .

Picks 6-10: Pirates halt Mark Appel’s free-fall                              .

Picks 11-15: A’s, Mets select high school shortstops                .

Picks 16-20: Nationals roll the dice on RHP Giolito                .

Picks 21-31: Blue Jays add potential 2012 callup Stroman

Report: Arquimedes Caminero likely to sign with Yomiuri Giants

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 21: Arquimedes Caminero #48 of the Seattle Mariners delivers a pitch during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Safeco Field on August 21, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Brewers won the game 7-6. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Mariners’ right-hander Arquimedes Caminero is nearing a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The club has reportedly agreed to sell the 29-year-old’s contract, Dutton writes, though no official move has been announced by either team yet. Caminero is under club control through 2020 and currently ineligible for arbitration.

The right-hander began the 2016 season with the Pirates but was sent to the Mariners in a trade for Seattle minor leaguers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez in order to clear space in the Bucs’ bullpen. With the Mariners, Caminero produced a 3.66 ERA and 8.2 K/9 through 19 2/3 innings in the second half of the year. Although he boasts an electric fastball, one which consistently averaged 98.7 m.p.h. in 2016, his success rate has been tempered by poor control throughout his major league career. According to Dutton, the Mariners’ willingness to sell Caminero’s contract was a strong indication that they did not see him as a viable contender for their 2017 bullpen or as a potential trade chip further down the line.

Should the deal go through, the right-hander will be the second former Mariner to sign with a Japanese club for the 2017 season. Per Dutton’s report, outfielder Stefen Romero also picked up a contract with the Orix Buffaloes of NPB in late November.

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.

The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.