GENEVA – Mark Zagunis arrived in Geneva on Thursday with an impressive pedigree but humble expectations.
The Cubs’ third-round pick in June’s draft, the catcher/outfielder out of Virginia Tech isn’t counting on vaulting atop of the team’s pecking order behind the plate.
“There’s a bunch of talented catchers here ahead of me so any chance to get on the field, I’m just going to try my best and see what happens,” said Zagunis, promoted Thursday from Short-A Boise.
After the Cougars’ 4-1 comeback win over the Quad Cities River Bandits, manager Mark Johnson said Zagunis likely will see most of his time in the outfield and at DH while Victor Caratini and Cael Brockmeyer handle much of the catching responsibilities.
Zagunis became the third 2014 Cubs draft pick to arrive in Kane County, following first-round pick Kyle Schwarber (since promoted to Daytona) and infielder Chesny Young.
The highlight of Zagunis’ brief professional career to date came July 14 when he hit for the cycle in Boise’s win against Spokane. Zagunis, 21, batted .299 with two home runs and 27 RBIs in 41 games at Boise, where he was a Northwest League All-Star.
“I’m definitely excited,” said Zagunis, who was not in the Cougars’ lineup Thursday as they capped their three-game series sweep of Quad Cities. “Any time you get promoted to any level is definitely exciting. It’s one step closer to your dreams.”
With Zagunis coming in, catcher/infielder Ben Carhart was promoted to Daytona while outfielder Kevin Brown was sent down to Boise.
In Boise, Zagunis mostly caught while also playing some outfield and DH.
Zagunis will have a little more than two weeks to adjust to Midwest League competition before attempting to help the Cougars in the playoffs, which they qualified for with a first-half division title.
In the meantime, Zagunis said he looks forward to large crowds like the ones he saw Thursday, with 11,202 fans in attendance.
“That’s the biggest thing I heard is big crowds, a big difference from Boise to here,” Zagunis said.
Of more immediate concern was his sleeping arrangements. Speaking a little more than an hour before the game, Zagunis wasn’t sure what his lodging situation would be. He knew this much – after a morning flight and hustling to the ballpark, hitting the pillow was going to be a priority.
“It’s been a long day,” Zagunis said. “I’ve been up since 5:30-ish [a.m.]”
Carhart became the 11th Cougar this year to be promoted. He was a mainstay for the Cougars this season, driving in 43 runs while playing in 102 games, third on the team behind Jacob Rogers and Carlos Penalver.
“Incredible teammate and incredible human being,” Johnson said of Carhart. “He’s a blessing as a manager … we wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we’re at without him.”