Indians take Virginia OF Papi with 38th pick

Indians take Virginia OF Papi with 38th pick

CLEVELAND -- The Indians have had success with drawing from the University of Virginia player pool in the past. On Thursday night, Cleveland used its third pick of the First-Year Player Draft on another Cavalier, outfielder Mike Papi.

In Competitive Balance Round A -- sandwiched between the first and second rounds -- the Indians used the 38th overall pick of the Draft on Papi, adding a hitter who strikes a balance between selectivity and power. It is Papi's keen eye at the plate and versatility in the field that caught Cleveland's attention.

"He does have that advanced feel to hit,' said Brad Grant, the Indians' director of amateur scouting. "He is extremely patient at the plate. He doesn't expand the strike zone. He has a natural ability to hit the ball and he has the ability to move around the field.

"He can play left, he can play right, he can play first. He brings you a lot of versatility in terms of defense to his game. And, there's power that can develop."

Cleveland's selection of the 21-year-old Papi came within a busy day for the Indians, who boasted four picks on the first day of the First-Year Player Draft.

The Tribe's previous selections on Day 1 included University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer (No. 21 overall) and high school left-hander Justus Sheffield (No. 31) out of Tennessee. Cleveland later took prep right-hander Grant Hockin out of Damien High School (Calif.) with the 61st overall pick to wrap up its evening.

A year ago, the Indians used a fourth-round selection on Virginia left-hander Kyle Crockett, who then soared though Cleveland's farm system. Earlier this season, Crockett reached the big leagues, becoming the first player from any organization taken in the 2013 Draft to reach the Majors.

No pressure, Papi.

Through 60 games for Virginia this season, Papi has posted a .297/.445/.498 slash line to go with 11 home runs, nine doubles, 51 RBIs and 51 runs scored. The lefty-swinging outfielder also had more walks (53) than strikeouts (43).

Papi was previously drafted in the 30th round of the 2011 Draft by the Angels, but he did not sign.

Grant said Cleveland will likely look to start Papi off in the outfield, but the organization will sit down with him to discuss the situation.

"Once we get Mike into the organization," Grant said, "we'll sit down with him and see where he's comfortable and see what he wants to do. But, we'll expose him to probably multiple different positions and probably start him off in the outfield."

Papi has plenty on his plate right now with Virgina, which is scheduled to face Maryland in a best-of-three super regional series, beginning Saturday.

After being drafted, Papi took to Twitter and posted this message: "Extremely blessed to be an [Indian] and a huge thank you to all my supporters. But we still have some [Virginia baseball] business to take care of."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.