The Colorado Rockies locked up one of their core members at the inception of the 2018 season, extending Charlie Blackmon for six years and nearly a hundo mill.
The Rockies, who entered Sunday with a 1.5 game lead in the tight NL West with just a few weeks to go, are in no position to conduct tryouts over the season’s final handful of games.
However, I can’t help but keep an eye on any at-bats 24-year old outfielder Raimel Tapia gets.
Long considered a top 100 prospect with multi-tool ability, the Dominican native profiled as a very promising prospect since entering the scene in 2011 at age 17. He was rated top 50 on three platforms prior to 2017, where John rated him 77th.
He made his MLB debut in 2016, appearing in just 22 games. He got an extended look last season when injuries befell veterans Carlos Gonzalez, Gerardo Parra and Ian Desmond.
In 70 games, he hit .288 with a pair of home runs and five stolen bases. It’s a solid but not exceptional stolen base number, speed being Tapia’s prevailing skill. He had a pinch-hit single in the Rockies Wild Card postseason loss to Arizona.
He’s mostly played corner outfield as a Rockie, due to the presence of the All-Star Blackmon. Tapia best profiles as a center fielder with his speed, but he won’t play there at Coors Field.
The Rockies have a lot of money invested into their current roster, especially the bullpen. Namely, they signed closer Wade Davis to the largest contract ever for a reliever last year.
Four relief pitchers make at least $7MM annually and superstar Nolan Arenado has one more year of arbitration to his name before hitting the open market.
Desmond’s contract is the highest on the payroll (24th in all of baseball), Gerardo Parra has a double-digit million team option coming up and second baseman D.J. LeMahieu will be an unrestricted free agent in a couple months.
Top prospect Brendan Rodgers is likely to allow LeMahieu to depart, while blocked utility youngster Ryan McMahon could bridge a gap at first, second or third.
Rockies franchise hero Carlos Gonzalez came back at a league-wide disinterested discount and has had a bounce-back year. Next season will be his age 33 season.
The Rockies have no shortage of bats at the moment. But the off-season’s script will probably see the roster go through some change.
LeMahieu’s absence helps Rodgers and McMahon, but not Tapia. The quietly very consistent Parra will likely be back for at least one more season. Desmond is going nowhere and if CarGo gets money elsewhere, maybe in the AL to DH, Desmond could move back to the outfield, also helping McMahon to play first base.
Just not Tapia, who has also developed a bit of a mistake-prone reputation with the big league club. He’s not a baby, he’s 24. He has only 233 MLB at-bats, but has parts of three years of MLB experience.
The overall numbers this season don’t jump off the page, but he’s continued to make an impression in what little time he’s had in 2018.
There isn’t a lot of big league meat to Raimel Tapia’s name. He hasn’t yet had the opportunity to carve a role in an extremely crowded Colorado depth chart. But, with what little he’s done, there is reason to believe in the recent top prospect.
For now, he’s a fifth outfielder in Colorado, an injury replacement in the reserve unit. He’s a controllable, promising lefty who the Rockies may have a chance to give an extended look next season.