Player: Mike Papi
Drafted by:Cleveland Indians
Height/Weight: 6'3", 210 pounds
Previously Drafted: 2011, 30th round by Angels
There has been no shortage of accolades for Mike Papi in three years at Virginia. He was a first-team All-American in 2013 after hitting a robust .393/.527/.625, and he has good bloodlines with his father and brother playing major college baseball, according to the Virginia baseball website.
Even though the numbers this season aren't as impressive as they were in 2013, Papi is still regarded as one of the best college hitters in this class because of his ability with the bat. It's not a great or deep crop this year, but that works in his favor when it comes to where he gets taken.
Full Scouting Report
Note: Numerical scores are on the conventional 80-point scouting scale, with the current score first and projected score second.
Papi is one of the best pure hitters in the 2014 draft class; could step into MLB today and hold his own, not that it will/should happen; hand-eye coordination is excellent; finds ways to barrel the ball and hit it the other way; doesn't always make hard contact but always puts the ball in play; as long as he can prove there's enough strength in his body to drive the ball, he should have no problem hitting close to .300 in the big leagues.
There's never been much power in his game, though he did set a career high in home runs this season; has a little more in the tank than the college game has shown, but it requires him to prove capable of driving the ball with a wood bat; swing and hip rotation are such that the left-handed hitter should develop average power in the future.
Plate Discipline: 50/55
The key to being a good hitter, even more than bat speed or swing mechanics, is recognizing pitches and laying off balls just off the plate; developed his eye at the plate very well over the last two years, evolving into a patient hitter who isn't afraid to draw walks; bat speed will be interesting to see against premium velocity, but the ability to see the ball gives him a high probability to succeed.
Papi has below-average foot speed, limiting him to either left field for a team that feels the bat will hide the defensive deficiencies, or first base if he just proves incapable of handling the outfield in pro ball; only stolen bases are likely to come against pitchers who are slow to the plate.
A fringy defensive prospect, he has to prove that his limited speed won't ruin his ability to play left field; doesn't always take great routes to the ball and struggles getting reads off the bat, so it's a long shot; has some potential for a team to work with or just completely overlook if it thinks he'll hit enough to make up for it.
The one positive Papi provides on defense is above-average arm strength, which is what gives him a greater-than-zero chance to be an outfielder; can make all the throws from left field or even fill in at right when a team needs to give the starter a day off; lack of athleticism occasionally leads to clumsy footwork, causing inaccurate throws.
MLB Player Comparison: David Murphy
This assumes that Papi stays in the outfield, where he will be relegated to left field because of limited range and not enough arm strength for right field. The Virginia star doesn't overwhelm you with tools, but he has a good left-handed swing with a workman-like approach and average power projection.
Projection: Average outfielder on first-division team
MLB ETA: 2016
Chances of Signing: 90 percent
Papi is a college player who won't benefit from another year at school. He's an excellent hitter who has no positional value and, at best, marginal power. Those aren't the kinds of players who get elevated with another year of college. He's not Mark Appel, going from No. 8 in the draft to No. 1.
This is Papi's best chance to get a solid signing bonus and enter pro ball, where he can learn from the best coaches in the world and maximize his potential. There's no reason to turn that down, unless he really likes playing for the best college team in the country.