KAWIKA EMSLEY-PAI, CATCHER
|Born: September 3, 1988
Height: 5′ 11″
Drafted: 10th Round, 301st Overall, 2010
How Acquired: Minor League FA
College: Lewis-Clark State College
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Emsley-Pai was a prep star in Washington state, then left the University of Texas after playing little as a freshman to head to perennial NAIA power Lewis-Clark. He put up impressive numbers as a sophomore, but scouts were disappointed with his hitting. Lewis-Clark tends to put up playstation offensive numbers; Emsley-Pai was actually one of their weaker hitters in 2010. He was hampered by back problems that made it harder for him to catch at Lewis-Clark, although he caught after being drafted. He was also a pitcher in high school. Arizona released him surprisingly quickly given his draft round and the Pirates signed him to a minor league deal.
Got only 103 plate appearances, which seems like very limited playing time for a 10th round pick who signed quickly after the draft, which adds to the feeling that maybe there was something going on between him and the organization, or between people within the organization. He did show a good arm, throwing out 19 of 36 base stealers. Arizona released him in December.
Opened 2012 as the backup to Elias Diaz at West Virginia. Emsley-Pai got off to a hot start with the bat, posting an OPS of .923 in April and 1.040 in May, and his playing time gradually increased. He cooled off, though, batting 194/350/247 in the second half. He had a very high walk rate and walked more than he struck out. He did the latter a little more than once every five ABs, which is a lot for a guy with no HRs. He may need to be more aggressive at the plate. He had a huge platoon split, with an OPS of .867 hitting right-handed and .665 hitting left-handed, and the latter figure was buoyed by a walk rate of better than one every five at-bats. The sample size is small, but he may need eventually to start hitting only from his natural side if splits like that continue. Emsley-Pai threw out 25% of base stealers, but that was actually better than Diaz, who has a good arm. The Power had the youngest pitching staff in the SAL, which may have had a lot more to do with the SBs than the catchers’ throwing.
Emsley-Pai opened 2012 in extended spring training due to a wrist injury, then went to Bradenton to back up Carlos Paulino. He didn’t hit at all, although he did draw an amazing number of walks. He threw out 28% of base stealers.
Emsley-Pai wasn’t on any roster at the start of the season, but he joined West Virginia after Wyatt Mathisen got hurt and split the catching the rest of the way with Francisco Diaz. He hit very little but he sure did draw a lot of walks. He continued to show good defensive skills and threw out 31% of base stealers.
Emsley-Pai spent the season mainly as a backup catcher at West Virginia, with a brief stint filling in at Altoona. He continued his pattern of hitting for a low average with a huge walk total, although he did quadruple his career HR total. Even AA pitchers couldn’t avoid walking him. He threw out 43% of base stealers.
Emsley-Pai made cameo appearances at West Virginia and Bradenton. He hit very well with the Power, although he did so as a 26-year old in a low level league. He threw out 14 of 29 base stealers.
Emsley-Pai won’t be eligible for minor league free agency for another year, so he’ll remain as an organizational catcher unless the Pirates release him.
|2016: Minor League Contract|
|Signing Bonus: $70,000
MiLB Debut: 2010
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2016
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 8, 2010: Drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 10th round, 301st overall; signed on June 15.
December 15, 2010: Released by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
January 20, 2011: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league free agent.