Priding himself on hard work and dedication to baseball, North Salem product Phil Capra hit the jackpot when he was drafted to the New York Mets in the MLB draft last week.
“Seeing my name pop up at all is a dream come true,” said Capra, a 2015 North Salem graduate. “All of my hard work paid off.
There’s still a lot of work to do but getting drafted by a New York team is unbelievable. It’s always any kid’s dream to get drafted by their state’s team.”
The switch-hitting catcher flew down to Port Saint Lucie, Fla., on Friday morning to officially sign his contract and begin working with the organization.
“Honestly, I don’t really know what’s going to go on [upon arrival],” Capra said. “I have a few friends who were drafted by the Mets last year, so I’ll talk to them a little bit before I get down there.”
Capra was selected in the 15th round (440th overall) on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 6, after completing his junior year at Wagner College on Staten Island.
“There’s definitely a lot of hard work that I put into it during high school and college,” Capra said of his baseball career. “It’s also a huge shout-out to the guys at Wagner who came before me, who put its name on the map. I don’t think it would have been possible for me to go [to the minor leagues] without them.”
He was expecting a phone call from a handful of teams that promised to call upon drafting him as the catcher filed through names of drafted players online.
Instead, his assistant coach from Wagner, Craig Noto, texted him, ‘Cap,’ with a bunch of exclamation points to signal the big news.
“The Mets’ pick then popped up with my name and I just fell out of my chair,” Capra said. “I immediately called my dad and as I was on the phone with him, one of the Mets’ scouts called me. He told me to come home from summer ball and get ready to fly down to Florida.”
At the time of his selection, Capra was just beginning to play in a collegiate summer baseball league with the Mystic Schooners of Connecticut.
Now preparing to undertake a full summer season in the Mets’ minor league system, he expects to either play with the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York-Penn League or for the Kingsport Mets in the Rookie League.
“I still have a lot to learn at the catcher position,” Capra said. “I need to develop before I start moving up, but I feel confident in my ability to keep moving forward.
Capra produced a few stellar seasons at Wagner, hitting .312 this year and batting a robust .351 over 50 games in 2017.
This year, for the second season in a row, he was in the running for the Johnny Bench Award, a testament to his defensive prowess behind the plate.
Throughout his three seasons at Wagner, Capra compiled 181 hits, 34 doubles, 22 home runs and 134 RBIs.
Wagner even broke the college’s single-season wins record this year and finished 38-18. They reached the Northeast Conference Championship game before falling, 8-5, to LIU Brooklyn.
An All-State player and league MVP in high school, Capra’s four-year varsity head coach Rob Gilchrist remembers his great success behind the plate.
“He was just a dominant player,” Gilchrist said. “Defensively, Phil controlled the running game and was very strong. He hit for contact and from both sides of the plate with a lot of power. He was just a gifted all-around baseball player.”
A finance major at Wagner, Capra is putting his academic career on hold for now. Upon a possible return, he plans to attend the same college to finish his degree for one more academic year.
“This couldn’t have happened to a better kid,” Gilchrist said. “Phil’s work ethic was off the charts when it came to baseball. He just put in a tremendous amount of hours into the game, and we’re all proud of him.”