Gator catcher Mike Zunino named Player of the Year
Florida junior catcher Mike Zunino has been named the Baseball America 2012 College Player of the Year, the first Gator to earn the prestigious award, which has been presented annually since 1981.
Zunino is also the only member of the publication’s 2011 All-America first team to repeat as a first-team selection this year. UF junior pitcher/DH Brian Johnson was named a second-team All-American in the utility spot.
Friday's announcement is the latest in a string of awards and honors for Zunino, a native of Cape Coral. He is a first-team ABCA/Rawlings, Baseball America, Louisville Slugger and NCBWA All-American, and became Florida’s first-ever Dick Howser Trophy recipient last week.
He's currently a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Johnny Bench Award. He finished as the Gators’ “Triple Crown” winner, leading the team in batting average (.322), RBI (67) and homers (19). He also led the team in total bases (164), doubles (28), sacrifice flies (11) and slugging percentage (.669), and was 9-for-10 on the basepaths. A two-time, first-team All-SEC recipient and two-time member of the league’s All-Defensive Team, Zunino registered a .994 fielding percentage, with three errors in 510 chances, and threw out 20 runners who attempted to steal on him.
"Without the University of Florida, without the coaching staff, I wouldn't be where I'm at,'' Zunino said. "They've sculpted me as a player and helped me tremendously. I couldn't be happier with the decision I made out of high school. It's been the best three years of my life playing here. I'm just grateful for it. Coming in here out of high school, I was just raw. They saw potential in me, and they got the best out of it. I bought into what they were saying. I'm just grateful for what they did. Obviously, we didn't win the national championship, but I hope we laid the groundwork for what (coach Kevin O'Sullivan) wants to have in years to come."