Three years ago, Mike Papi was one of the top prospects in Pennsylvania. Now, he’s one of the top prospects in the entire country.
Three years ago, he was drafted in the 30th round out of Tunkhannock High School. On Thursday, he was drafted just after the first round out of the University of Virginia.
A reigning first-team All-American, Papi was selected 38th overall by the Cleveland Indians in the 2014 MLB Draft.
Papi was taken in the first competitive balance round, just four picks out of the first round.
“Extremely blessed to be an @Indians and a huge thank you to all my supporters,” Papi wrote late Thursday night on his Twitter account. “But we still have some #UVaBase business to take care of.
“Happy to be with my teammates during a time like this. A true blessing and a dream come true.”
He becomes the highest drafted player from the Wyoming Valley Conference since Lake-Lehman’s Johnny Oliver went in the first round in 1996. In high school, he helped lead the Tigers to consecutive District 2 titles as well as the 2011 state finals.
As a senior at Tunkhannock, Papi was feared enough by WVC teams that for the first month of the league season, he actually had as many walks as he did official at-bats.
Not just a strong hitter, Papi also boasted a fastball that could brush the 90s. He went nearly a year between mound starts for the Tigers, but when coach Gary Custer broke him out for the PIAA semifinals that year, he combined on a no-hitter, pitching six innings in a Tunkhannock victory that put the Tigers in the title game.
Projected as a corner outfielder at the big-league level, Papi was originally selected by the Los Angeles Angels in June 2011 but elected to stick with his commitment to Virginia.
His decision was a productive one. Now a junior for the powerhouse Cavaliers, Papi will be playing in the Super Regional opener this weekend, looking to reach the College World Series.
He was the third Virginia player taken in the top 40 picks and went off the board just one pick after teammate Derek Fisher was nabbed by the Houston Astros.
The MLB draft continues with rounds 3-10 today. Crestwood grad and stalwart University of Pittsburgh pitcher Matt Wotherspoon is also expected to be selected at some point this weekend. In 2013, Wotherspoon went in the 20th round to the Detroit Tigers but elected to return for his senior season at Pitt.