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ONE STEP CLOSER: Mike Papi

ONE STEP CLOSER:  Mike Papi

Cleveland Indians / Lynchburg Hillcats (Class A-Advanced)

Mike_Papi_596068Mequon, WI – Former Lakeshore Chinook Mike Papi has dealt with high expectations throughout his career, but after Papi was selected by the Cleveland Indians as the team’s highest pick in the MLB Draft (38th overall pick in the 1st Round CBA of the 2014 MLB Draft), those expectations went sky-high. Chinook fans continue to have high hopes for the sweet swinging outfielder from the University of Virginia who routinely comes up in fan discussions about players advancing to the major leagues, but for many, Papi’s progress has been slow.

IMG_3669Papi, however, takes it all in stride as he thoughtfully works at his craft.  While others may have a timeline of expectations for him, Papi values each day as an opportunity to improve, telling Damien Sordlett of the Lynchburg News & Advance, “Every season is important; every at-bat to me, every pitch is just as important as every season is,” Papi said. “For me, it’s coming to the ballpark every day with a good mentality and staying positive and not riding that rollercoaster, trying to find the most consistent path. When you find that path, the stats and all the wins take care of themselves.”  Papi spent the 2014 summer adjusting to the speed of the game as he played with the Indian’s Class A affiliate, the Lake County Captains, where he posted a surprising .178 batting average.  And while Papi nudged that average up to .236 in 2015 playing for the Lynchburg Hillcats, fans may still be impatient.  With a wealth of outfield prospects in the organization, transitioning to his secondary position at first base is always a possibility. That will require more adjustments in the field, but as always, Papi’s progress at the plate will fuel his rise.  As a more productive hitter in 2015, Papi hit four home runs and knocked in 45 and displayed his reputation for plate discipline by drawing 81 walks.  Papi, who recetly was ranked by MLB.com as the 18th best prosepct in the Cleveland system, came to this realization about the adjustment from college ball.  “It’s more of you’re facing a Friday starter every day. You’ve got to go up there and you’ve got to grind out at-bats. You’ve got to want to attack the pitcher, you don’t want him to come after you,” said Papi, who also had these comments about his experiences in the minor leagues:

1. My next step in my career would have to be becoming more of an aggressive hitter and doing it more consistently. Just like anything in life, hard work and perseverance will be the keys to accomplishing that step.

2. My favorite moment was when I hit a two run two out home run in the top of the ninth to tie the game against the Salem Red Sox.

3. As far as the funniest moment it was another game against the Salem Red Sox when someone in the stands spotted something running around along the outfield wall.  It turned out it was a worker trying to catch skunk and it postponed the game for a few minutes – definitely brought a lot of laughter to the stadium that day.

4. The hardest part of the minors for me has to be the speed of the game. The game is always unpredictable but my ability to make in game adjustments is always helpful.

The Indians, who still have expectations for the Tunkhannock, PA native, will give strong consideration to moving Papi up the ladder, as long as his hitting matures and he develops as planned.  Keep track of the lefty’s progress at: 

http://www.milb.com/player/index.jsp?sid=milb&player_id=596068#/career/R/hitting/2015/ALL

The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. The 22-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 140 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (KC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com.