A Bittersweet Week for Micah Gibbs

Micah Gibbs (AP)

BATON ROUGE – Catcher Micah Gibbs was the Chicago Cubs' third-round pick in the 2010 MLB draft on Tuesday. Gibbs was taken with the 97th overall pick after leading the LSU Tigers with a .388 average in 2010. The switch-hitting Gibbs had a .458 on-base percentage with 10 home runs, 14 doubles and 60 RBI in 62 games.

LSU's season -- and any hopes the Tigers had of repeating as national champions -- ended when it was eliminated by UC-Irvine in the Los Angeles Regional last Sunday, and Gibbs called the last couple of days a bag of mixed emotions.

"It's been a whirlwind," Gibbs told reporters at LSU's Alex Box Stadium here Tuesday. "Obviously it was an upsetting end to our season. To be out there in the huddle and to see guys like (Matt) Gaudet playing their last game at LSU, and maybe their last time of playing baseball, it's gut-wrenching for me. Then to come here today and find out that I was drafted in the third round, it's kind of bittersweet."

The selection of Gibbs came a year after the Cubs selected his former LSU teammate, shortstop/second baseman D. J. LeMahieu in the second round. It's the second year in a row that the Cubs have drafted the Tigers' leading hitter.

LSU coach Paul Mainieri is close friends with Chicago General Manager Jim Hendry, and after learning of Hendry's decision to take Gibbs, Mainieri gave his friend some good-natured ribbing.

"I was having lunch with my family and watching the draft on my phone, and it popped up Micah Gibbs. About five seconds later, Jim Hendry called me. I said, ‘Boy you just want to keep taking my young players. Thanks a lot," Mainieri said.

But the reality is that had the Cubs not taken Gibbs, another club would have. Mainieri had five players total drafted in the first two days of the draft: Gibbs, Anthony Ranaudo (Boston), Austin Ross (Milwaukee), and Leon Landry and Blake Dean (Dodgers).

"Obviously Jim thought a lot of Micah Gibbs," said Mainieri. "He's seen him play a lot, and there's no question in my mind that Micah is a major league catcher. He worked so hard to improve his hitting this year, and he did.

"He gave us everything for three years and with my blessings now, I think it's probably time for him to move on to the next level, see if he can get to the big leagues, and have a good, outstanding career there," added Mainieri.

Gibbs was asked how much the 2010 season helped his draft stock.

"Coming into this year, everybody had some questions as to how I could swing at the next level and I thought I answered those questions as best I could," he said.

"I worked pretty much everyday relentlessly on hitting, and kept working on catching. The stolen base percentages weren't what they were the first couple of years, but at the same time, I'll take third-round any day."

Though Gibbs had not yet spoken to any representatives from the Cubs about contract negotiations at press time, he doesn't envision there being a roadblock to beginning his professional career – likely later this summer in short-season or rookie league ball.

And when your coach is best friends with the general manager of the club that drafted you, it probably bodes especially well for a player who was his team's best hitter.

"I've got to believe that they (the Cubs) probably talked about most of our guys here, and when you have that kind of connection it definitely helps out a lot. I just hope I've done enough here to where Coach Mainieri said some good things to him (Hendry) about me," the modest Gibbs said.

"To be drafted by the Chicago Cubs, with their tradition, that's just icing on the cake," added Gibbs. "Beyond that, the cherry on top is I lived with D.J. for two years and I have a chance to play with him throughout the minors and hopefully in the big leagues."

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