MadFriars' Interview: Brad Zunica

The San Diego Padres drafted 15 players who are 6’4 or taller in this June’s draft. Many of those players were pitchers, but first baseman and 15th round selection Brad Zunica was the largest position player taken by the Padres in this year’s draft.

The first baseman is listed at 6’6 and 254lbs – although he may be larger than that. Zunica, 19, hails from Florida, and has had an interesting path to professional baseball. He graduated from high school a year early and attended the University of Miami, to get a head start on chasing his Big League aspirations. Zunica played for the Hurricanes for just one season before transferring to State College of Florida Manatee for the 2015 season. In his lone season for State College, Zunica swatted 13 home runs, despite playing in a large ballpark. Scouts have praised his plus-power potential and his left-handed stroke.

Zunica had the opportunity to play at the University of Tampa, the Division II power managed by former Lake Elsinore Storm player Joe Urso. Ultimately, Zunica decided to sign with San Diego in July.

Zunica began his professional career in the Padres’ organization this summer, and opened eyes with his debut. The powerful lefty hit .271/.329/.518, with seven home runs – good for 3rd in the league. Zunica also had a pair of multi-homer games in the desert. Zunica was nice enough to answer some questions via phone from his home in Florida.

Let’s start things off by giving our readers a little more about your background.

Brad Zunica: Sure. I attended Lakewood Ranch High School in Florida. I graduated early and went to the University of Miami. Miami was a dream school for me, so when the opportunity presented itself to attend there, I went for it. The school wanted me to attend, so I made it work.

Scouts have raved about your power potential when you were selected in the draft. How would you describe your approach at the plate?

Brad Zunica: I don’t consider myself a pull guy exclusively; I drive the ball to all fields. Most of my power does come from the pull side. I try and look for the fastball and put forth a good swing. I definitely believe I can hit the ball out to any part of the field.

There aren’t many left-handed hitters around with your power potential. It seems like a guy with your potential would go earlier than the 15th round. Do you feel like your stock was hurt by your commitment to the University of Tampa?

Brad Zunica: No, not really. I chose Tampa because it was close to my home and my parents would be able to see me play. Plus, they are a winning program, and I wanted the chance to win and be competitive. The Padres were one of the teams that I worked out with. They made the effort to sign me, so I decided to go pro and pursue my dream.

What kind of improvements are you looking to make with your game going forward?

Brad Zunica: I really want to improve my whole game. I need to work to get better defensively. I also would like to cut back on my strikeouts and make more consistent contact. I think that if I can make more contact, I will have a better chance to move up the ladder.

Your numbers in the Arizona League were quite solid. I know some players have a hard time adjusting to playing there. What did you do to adjust?

Brad Zunica: For me, it wasn’t too big of an adjustment. Some guys have commented on the fact there aren’t fans there, but there wasn’t really a lot of fans at the games at my junior college. Once the game starts, you just get focused and go out and play.

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