Here's more September prospect promotion goodness, turning our gaze towards Colorado Rockies outfielder Raimel Tapia. He's off to an excellent start, going 7-for-15 (.467) in his first four major league games.
Tapia has been on the radar for awhile, rating as an upper-level Grade B prospect in my rankings for three years in a row. The pre-season view from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies
Bats: L Throws: L HT: 6-2 WT: 160 DOB: February 4, 1994
2014: Grade B; 2015: Grade B
Raimel Tapia continues moving along, hitting .300+ every year. He’s got bat speed and makes hard contact on pitches other hitters can’t handle well. However, his approach remains very aggressive and it remains to be seen if he’ll continue to produce against advanced pitching at higher levels. His over-the-fence power continues to tease but has yet to take a big step forward, and his spindly 6-2, 160 body hasn’t filled out and may never really do so. His running speed is above average but not excellent and his stolen base technique needs more work. On the positive side, his defense improved a great deal last year, with more accurate throwing and better jumps enabling him to hold his own in center. Overall, Tapia’s balance of strengths and weaknesses hasn’t changed much; Double-A will be a crucial test. We will hold with a Grade B.
Tapia passed the crucial Double-A test without trouble, hitting .323/.363/.450 in 424 at-bats in the Eastern League. Promoted to Triple-A Albuquerque, he continued to rake with a .346/.355/.490 line in 104 at-bats. Overall he combined for 25 doubles, 10 triples, eight homers, 27 walks, 61 strikeouts, and 23 steals in 40 attempts.
The pre-season report hasn't changed much: he's an athletic slashing line drive hitter with an aggressive approach. The good news is that his approach continued to work against advanced minor league pitching; in fact, his strikeout rate dropped substantially this year without any loss of production. He continues to have problems using his speed efficiently on the bases and gets caught stealing more often than he should, but his defense is a real plus.
Tapia is still only 22 years old. There are still some questions about how much home run power he'll show in the long run, but as pure hitters go he has few peers among prospects and his glovework will be an asset to anyone. He's moved past the upper-tier Grade B range and is at least a Grade B+ prospect entering 2017.