#29—Mark Zagunis

Drafted in the third round out of Virginia Tech, Mark Zagunis was the second catcher the Cubs selected last June and without Kyle Schwarber stealing the headlines, would have gotten more publicity for his play. Likely to work behind the plate in South Bend to start the season, Zagunis also shows the ability to play the outfield with his athleticism.

Name: Mark Zagunis, C
Age: 22 (2/5/1993)
Throws: Right
Height: 6-foot
Weight: 205 pounds
How acquired: Drafted in 3rd round 2014, # 78 overall, out of Virginia Tech. Scouted by Billy Swoope.

2014 Teams:
Mesa Cubs, Arizona Rookie League (2 G, .125/.222/.250, 0 HR, 1 RBI);
Boise Hawks, Northwest League, Short-Season (41 G, .299/.429/.422, 2 HR, 27 RBI);
Kane County Cougars, Midwest League, Low A (14 G, .280/.419/.440, 4 HR, 10 RBI)

Prior to Cubs
An all-state baseball player at Holy Cross High School in New Jersey, Zagunis also played football and basketball and finished his high school career with a .538 average in 103 career starts. He continued to square up baseballs at Virginia Tech and became the school’s first freshman all-american in eight years, hitting .344/.430/.513 in 48 starts. Zagunis started all 62 games as a sophomore and showed his versatility by catching (28 games) and playing the outfield (18). He hit .341/.433/.543 and slugged nine homers. He ran his consecutive game streak to 161 games his junior season and was one of the top hitters in the ACC, ranking at the top of several offensive categories. Zagunis earned second-team all ACC honors, was a Johnny Bench Award semi-finalist, and finished the year with a slash line of .330/.426/.426. The Cubs came calling in the third round and Zagunis signed his $615,000 bonus in late June.

2014 Season
One day after turning pro, Zagunis was on the diamond making his pro debut for Mesa in the Arizona Rookie League against the A’s, going 1-3 with a double and a RBI. He played one more game in Mesa and headed north for Boise. The 21-year-old made history in his 15th game in a Boise uniform, hitting for the cycle against Spokane with four RBI. In 41 games for the Hawks, splitting time between catcher and the outfield, Zagunis batted .299/.429/.422 and showed off his speed and base running prowess with 11 stolen bases. The New Jersey native got a taste of playoff baseball as he was promoted to Kane County in the middle of August and played 14 games in the MWL, hitting .280/.419/.440 with five stolen bases. Zagunis capped off his memorable first pro season serving as the Cougars DH during six games in the playoffs, hitting .429/.429/.750 with five extra base hits, including two homers and five RBI, for the MWL champs.

2015 Outlook
Look for Zagunis to start the year back in the Midwest League with South Bend, spending time behind the plate and in the outfield. Cubs brass has made an emphasis of having their catchers play multiple positions while in the minors, and Zagunis fits the mold perfectly. With three years of college experience, Zagunis handled the NWL but still showed that same approach and success during his brief stint in Kane County, including the playoffs. His at-bats are textbook, working the count, and taking good cuts at pitches he can handle. He hits with a wide stance, and a slight leg kick gets things moving. Needing to improve his defensive skills to remain at catcher, Zagunis has the tools, including speed, to make a position switch if needed. He should be up to the task of his first full pro season and could be back on the east coast by season’s end.

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