Colorado Rockies outfielder Raimel Tapia is competing for ABs this spring training. The 26-year-old remains an interesting player but has struggled exceptionally with the Rockies elevation situation.
The Colorado Rockies have had a number of home-grown prospects make it to the big leagues. It is a testament to their scouting and player development department. The problem for the Rockies has been their willingness to block interesting young talent with free agents and refusing to play their younger talent.
Raimel Tapia falls into that category as he has been a promising prospect for years but 2019 was the first year he got a full season of ABs. The results weren’t stellar as Tapia posted a .275/.309/.415 batting line (73 wRC+) and -0.9 fWAR across 447 ABs.
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Digging deeper into his offensive profile, Tapia posted his best exit velocity of his career at 87.4 MPH but that mark was only in the 23rd percentile in baseball. Tapia struck out in 22.4% of his plate appearances while only walking in 4.7%. Tapia is also a primary ground ball hitter with 52% and split his fly balls and line drives almost right down the middle of the remaining 50%.
It appears Tapia suffers from the Coors Hangover worse than just about any other Colorado hitter. At home, Tapia recorded a 91 wRC+ while on the road only managed a wRC+ of 54. It gets even weirder though as Tapia, a lefty hitter, recorded an above-average 106 wRC+against left-handers at home while only managing a 15 wRC+ on the road against lefties.
To add to the strangeness of Tapia’s profile, he actually had his hardest hits against breaking balls with an average exit velocity of 89.1 MPH compared to 87.3 MPH against fastballs. Think that is crazy? In 2018, Tapia hit breaking balls 11 MPH harder than he did fastballs.
Tapia doesn’t fit the modern offensive mold as he doesn’t hit for much power. Perhaps the most interesting part of Tapia’s profile is that he has a 153 wRC+ when hitting the ball to center and 125 wRC+ going to left field. For context, Tapia was Anthony Rendon going up the middle, Gleybar Torres going up the middle compared to Elvis Andrus when he pulled the ball. In the same way, hitters are encouraged to hit the ball in the air, Tapia should be encouraged to improve his middle/oppo approach at the plate.
There is a path forward for Tapia to be a successful big league outfield but Colorado doesn’t seem like the place it will happen. Tapia is an excellent defender who if he can provide any sort of offense will be a positive asset for an MLB team.
While no player wants to be designated for assignment, Tapia is out of options and could benefit from a change of scenery and not having to deal with the Coors Hangover anymore. There are a number of rebuilding teams who would love to see what Tapia could do. They just need the Colorado Rockies to give up on Raimel Tapia first.