The Padres drafted him in the fifteenth round of the State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota in the 2015 draft, the junior college where he transferred after a year at the University of Miami. What makes the left-handed hitting Zunica intriguing is his size and athleticism, at a solid 6’ 6” and 250 pounds, he has the potential to launch any pitch to any field at any time.
This off-season the Padres wanted him to cut down on his swing and his weight for the 140 game Midwest League season. So far it seems like he has accomplished both of his goals.
We caught up with Brad after the first official minor league spring training games.
What was the biggest change for you over the off-season?
Brad Zunica: The biggest thing for me was to just get in better shape. I dropped twenty pounds in the off-season and just feel so much better in the field, especially on defense. Where I could really see the difference was in my footwork around the bag.
I don’t know if I am necessarily faster but I do feel quicker out there.
How did you do it?
Brad Zunica: The biggest thing was really tightening up my diet - no more late night cheeseburgers - kicking in the cardio while continuing to lift for strength. It wasn’t easy, but I really do feel a lot better.
How did playing a season of pro ball help you when compared to many of your friends that are playing baseball in college?
Brad Zunica: As everyone says, it’s just a different game because it’s every day and you have to be prepared to play every day. That is one of the big reasons that I wanted to cut the weight because I want to be able to play a full season in the field and not get run down.
Playing this past year in the Arizona League helped me to realize you have to really do a lot of work in the off-season to prepare for the season because it’s very difficult to make in-season adjustments with the amount of games that we play.
With the weight loss are they going to try you at other positions, maybe in the outfield?
Brad Zunica: [laughs] I’ve been playing first base all of my life and I still have a lot of work to do there, but it’s not really up to me. For right now, I’m pretty happy to stay at first.
How was the adjustment to wooden bats?
Brad Zunica: I broke a few when I first started playing in the AZL but I like playing with wood more than aluminum. Since they modified the aluminum bats its not the same and wood is just more traditional which I prefer.
How did you get to be a left-handed hitter?
Brad Zunica: [laughs] I wish I knew. I just picked up a bat and started swinging it left-handed.
When I ask most guys this same question they say that there father’s moved them over to one side; it didn’t happen with you?
Brad Zunica: [laughs] I’ll have to quiz my mom about that but as far as I know just happened naturally.