NEWBERG, Ore. – Putting the finishing touches to one of the best careers in George Fox University history, the Bruins’ All-America catcher, Josh Rapacz, has been picked up to play professional baseball as an undrafted free agent with Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays of the American League.
Rapacz, a native of West Richland, Wash., will begin his pro career by reporting to the Rays’ Florida Gulf Coast Rookie League team in Port Charlotte, Fla.
“Even though I wasn’t drafted, the Rays’ area scout called me about 10 minutes after the draft ended, and I jumped on it,” said Rapacz Tuesday afternoon. “It’s been a pretty hectic time since then. I’m signing my contract tonight and leaving Portland for Florida at 6:30 tomorrow morning. I fly into Ft. Myers, and I think someone is meeting me there to take me up to Port Charlotte, and the season starts Friday!”
Rapacz becomes the 22nd athlete who played for the Bruins to sign a professional baseball contract. The last Bruin to play professionally was relief pitcher Chad Jones, who spent two seasons (2012-13) with the Quebec Capitales of the independent Canadian-American League. The last Bruin to play in a major league organization was first baseman Dan Wentzell, who was drafted in the 20th round by the Oakland Athletics and played parts of two seasons (2007-08) with their Northwest League Class A team in Vancouver, B.C.
In his five years (2010-14) at George Fox (he received a medical hardship year from the NCAA after playing in only nine games in 2011), Rapacz compiled a batting average of .387, with a slugging percentage of .517 and an on base percentage of .449. He totaled 196 hits in 507 at bats, with 38 doubles, two triples, eight home runs, and 262 total bases. He scored 92 runs and drove in 106. He also drew 50 walks while stiking out only 45 times, was hit by a pitch 11 times, and had five sacrifice bunts, nine sacrifice flies, and stole six bases.
On the all-time lists at George Fox, Rapacz ranks ninth in batting average and hits, 11th in doubles, 12th in runs, 14th in total bases, 17th in on base pct., and 18th in runs batted in.
An outstanding defensive catcher, Rapacz posted a fielding average of .990 with only nine errors in 876 total fielding chances during his Bruin career. He had 770 putouts and 97 assists, and threw out 29 of 87 runners trying to steal, a .333 percentage.
Rapacz led the Northwest Conference in batting (.450 in 2013, .391 in 2014) and on base percentage (.514 in 2013, .479 in 2014) each of the last two seasons, and paced the league in slugging percentage in 2013 (.690).
Rapacz was named First Team NCAA Division III All-America by D3baseball.com and Third Team All-America by the American Baseball Coaches Association as a junior in 2013. He was also named the West Region Player of the Year by D3baseball.com and the Northwest Conference Player of the Year that same season. He was named All-West Region by D3baseball and the ABCA each of the last two years (Second Team in 2014, First Team in 2013), and was a four-time All-Conference honoree (First Team in 2012-14, honorable mention in 2010). He also earned All-West Region Gold Glove honors from the ABCA as a senior.
Looking back on his Bruin career, Rapacz said, “I
thoroughly enjoyed my five years at George Fox, making so many
friends and getting a great education. I’m excited and
grateful to the Rays for this chance to play pro ball and start a
new chapter in my life, though.”
Bruins Who Have Signed Professional Baseball Contracts
1980 - P Dave LaBounty (Pittsburgh Pirates)
1986 - C Keven Bottenfield (Montreal Expos)
1989 - IF Dan Stupur (Los Angeles Dodgers)
1991 - P Steve Mills (Pocatello Pioneers - Ind)
1991 - P J.R. Cock (California Angels)
1992 - P Chris Berg (New York Mets, signed out of Washington)
1992 - P Scott Englehart (Florida Marlins)
1992 - P John Avery (Atlanta Braves)
1992 - C Steve Lampkin (Montreal Expos)
1993 - P Clark Anderson (San Francisco Giants)
1994 - P Mark Andersen (Florida Marlins)
1994 - OF Kevin Watson (San Francisco Giants)
1994 - IF Mike Nadeau (Baltimore Orioles)
1996 - OF Chris Wakeland (Detroit Tigers, signed out of Oregon State, only Bruin to reach the majors)
1999 - 1B Nate Barnett (Seattle Mariners)
2004 - P Scott Hyde (New York Mets)
2004 - C Greg Dombek (Colorado Rockies)
2005 - SS David Peterson (Texas Rangers)
2006 - P Derrick Jones (Texas Rangers)
2007 - 1B Dan Wentzell (Oakland Athletics)
2012 - P Chad Jones (Quebec Capitales - Ind)
2014 - C Josh Rapacz (Tampa Bay Rays)