Big League Dreams: Mike Papi
A Look at Chinooks in the Minor Leagues
Mike Papi – Cleveland Indians – Lake County Captains (A)
Since arriving at Kapco Park after making it to the final cuts for Team USA in late June of 2013, Mike Papi has been on the radar of many Chinooks fans. The former Virginia Cavalier impressed everyone he came across that summer with his consistency and professionalism as he hit .313 and collected 19 RBIs; but more importantly, with his kind words and friendly ‘hellos’ for the Lakeshore faithful as he helped lead the Chinooks to the club’s first-ever playoff appearance.
Papi’s pro stock continued to rise when he returned to Virginia where he was named to several All-American teams and was a key cog in the Cavaliers’ run to the 2014 NCAA Championship Series. The news only got better as the Cleveland Indians selected Papi with the 38th pick in the Competitive Balance Round (First) of the MLB Draft. That marked the highest picked player in the short three year history of the Lakeshore Chinooks.
After receiving a signing bonus of $1.25 million and a $30,000 scholarship to finish his education, the Tunkhannock, PA native began his pro career in mid-July with a short two-game stint for the Mahoning Valley Scrappers of the New York-Penn League where he had three RBIs on two hits. From there, he was promoted to the Indians’ Class A affiliate in the Midwest League, the Lake County Captains in Eastlake, OH. While adjusting to professional pitchers and recording a .178 average, the DH/First Baseman once again experienced post-season play as the Captains reached the Midwest League Championship Series. Ranked by MLB.com as the 13th rated prospect in the Cleveland system and held in high esteem by the organization, Papi spent the fall in their Arizona Instructional League, where despite suffering a thumb injury that required surgery, he feels well-adjusted to pro baseball.
Papi continues to display his patient approach to hitting that was on display in his summer at Lakeshore, and feels that such discipline will be the key to future success. “I have to maintain a positive attitude every day, work hard, be resilient, and committed to making small adjustments.”
Lakeshore skipper Eddy Morgan doesn’t think that will be a problem for Papi. “I think his makeup is what will get him moving through the organization. He is a high character kid with tremendous talent. He has unbelievable strike zone awareness with great bat control. He produces at-bats like a veteran,” says Morgan.
In only one summer at Lakeshore, Papi raised the bar for future Chinooks in his performance, but also his incomparable work ethic and consistency, while still enjoying the experience. Mike recalled a favorite Lakeshore memory being a bus-rocking solo sung by teammate Tyler Thicke on the team bus after clinching the Chinook’s first-ever playoff berth, but also remembers a summer of improvement while he played with the team. As he heads into his second season of minor league ball, the entire Chinooks family will be following his progress as he continues to improve and chase his dreams!