Cleveland Indians prospect Mike Papi is having himself quite the season in Triple-A Columbus this season and deserves more recognition than he’s getting.
It’s no secret the Cleveland Indians are in desperate need of some offensive help. With Bradley Zimmer and Lonnie Chisenhall both on the disabled list, the bottom of the Tribe’s lineup has failed to garner much offense. The Tribe has been forced to rely on retreads like Rajai Davis and Melky Cabrera a lot more than they’d probably like. The lack of any real offense from the outfield has led to trade rumors though nothing has materialized as of yet.
The other avenue at the Tribe’s disposal is looking to the minor leagues for help. The Indians have tried this with the likes of Tyler Naquin and Greg Allen, but neither has worked out. Francisco Mejia was given a brief look as well but has since been traded for Brad Hand. The other player to see some small action has been a fan favorite Yandy Diaz.
Calling up Diaz makes sense as he’s hitting .284 with a .413 OBP and .789 OPS in Triple-A Columbus this year. Unfortunately, Diaz has only played the infield this season after dabbling in the outfield in previous years. As a result, he’s not viewed as much of an option in right field. I don’t agree with that logic but the Indians and Francona appear to think he shouldn’t be out there. However, the Indians have another player in Columbus hitting even better who IS playing the outfield: Mike Papi.
Not only is Mike Papi playing the outfield in Columbus, but he’s actually hitting just as well as everyone’s favorite prospect Yandy Diaz. On the year, Papi is hitting .256 with a .383 OBP and .793 OPS. Papi is very similar to Diaz in his ability to draw walks, posting a walk rate around 16-percent with the Clippers. Where he’s been better than Diaz is in the power department, posting a .154 ISO (isolated power) compared to Yandy’s almost embarrassingly low .092 ISO.
Where Papi would fit in perfectly with the Indians is as a platoon with Brandon Guyer in right field. Papi, a left-handed hitter, has hit righties very well this year, batting .275 with a .402 OBP and .858 OPS. Couple that with Guyer, who is hitting .274 with a .391 OBP and .952 OPS against southpaws and you have the making of one hell of an outfield platoon.
Scouts aren’t as high on Mike Papi as I am. He also hasn’t ranked high on any prospect lists recently, with MLB.com leaving him completely off their midseason top 30 list. He hasn’t played every day either in Columbus and did have a short stint on the disabled list though is back healthy and playing now. The Indians don’t seem intent on bringing him up any time soon but I for one am on the Papi bandwagon. He has holes in his swing and the power is not where you’d like it but I still believe he’s worthy of a shot in August or September, should the Indians not make a big move for a right fielder.
So what do you think, is Mike Papi someone the Indians should look at giving a shot too? Is he the next Jesus Aguilar? Or is he just a “Quad-A” type who isn’t worthy of a big league shot on a contender? Let us know in the comments below.