Tunkhannock graduate Mike Papi signed with the Cleveland Indians on July 3 after completing his junior season at the University of Virginia with a 3-2 loss to Vanderbilt in the championship game of the College World Series.
Papi is expected to start out with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League. He signed for a $1.25-million bonus, according to MLB.com and other sources.
The Indians chose Papi in one of the supplemental picks at the end of the first round of this year’s Major League Baseball Draft.
The pick makes Papi the second Wyoming Valley Conference player selected in the first round, joining Johnny Oliver, who was chosen 25th overall by the Cincinnati Reds out of high school at Lake-Lehman in 1996.
After leading Tunkhannock to the Class AAA state championship game in 2011, Papi played mostly first base and some outfield at Virginia. That may be reversed in the Cleveland farm system with Papi playing left field and right field as well as being an option at first base.
“He’s extremely patient at the plate,” Indians director of amateur scouting Brad Grant told MLB.com. “He doesn’t expand the strike zone. He has a natural ability to hit the ball and he has an ability to move around the field.”
Papi batted .307 with 11 home runs, 56 RBI and a school-record 61 walks while playing all 69 games for Virginia.
Oliver turned pro right after high school, but the outfielder never made it above Class A. He spent two seasons in rookie ball and two at Class A, moving from the Cincinnati organization to Boston’s system in 1999, his final season.
The best year for Oliver was 1998 when he batted .224 in 115 games at Charleston, WV. In 212 minor league games, he batted .208 with 14 homers, 79 RBI and 15 stolen bases.