Raimel Tapia's fourth season in the minors proved to be one of his best campaigns. The top prospect got his first taste of Double-A action and took it in stride, slashing .323/.363/.450 in 104 games with Hartford. He also showed an impressive ability to make contact, as he only fanned a bit over 10 percent of the time. This success translated nicely into the Triple-A ranks, as he posted a .346/.355/.490 slash line that vaulted the 22-year-old into the majors for a September callup. Tapia's ability to make contact paired with his speed makes him an intriguing option going forward, as he'll likely be given a chance to strut his stuff at the big league level again at some point during the 2017 season. That being said, garnering a role could take some time, as David Dahl, Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez seemingly have the three outfield spots on lockdown for the time being.
Tapia was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Tuesday. It turned out to be a short stay for Tapia, as expected, coinciding with Gerardo Parra's stint on the paternity list. Tapia made two starts while up with Colorado, going 0-for-7 with one strikeout. The 23-year-old remains an intriguing prospect to watch, but he may need a long-term injury or a trade to see significant run this season.
Tapia is out of the lineup Saturday against the Giants. The Rockies will use the right-handed Stephen Cardullo in left field Saturday as they face southpaw Matt Moore. Tapia went 0-for-3 in a surprise season debut Friday when Gerardo Parra was placed on the paternity list. He could draw back in Sunday against Jeff Samardzija if Parra is still away from the team.
Tapia was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday. Tapia had been in consideration for a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he'll begin the year at Triple-A after a rather pedestrian showing during Cactus League action. The 23-year-old spent parts of last season at the Triple-A level, hitting .346 with 14 RBI across 104 at-bats. He also posted strong numbers at Double-A Hartford, slashing .323/.363/.450 with 34 RBI and 17 steals in 104 games.
Tapia could land a major league roster spot if Gerardo Parra ends up replacing Ian Desmond (hand) at first base. According to The Denver Post, Parra, Mark Reynolds, Jordan Patterson and Stephen Cardullo are in the running to play first base. Reynolds seems to have the upper hand as of now, but Parra did fill in for Reynolds while he was injured last season, so it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility to see Parra fill the void in order to maintain the Rockies' current 40-man roster. If Parra were to slide to the infield, no one would be around to play left field until David Dahl (ribs) is back to 100 percent, leaving the door open for Tapia to claim an Opening Day assignment for himself. The 23-year-old isn't doing a lot to grab the position, however, as he's only managed to post a .580 OPS in 29 Cactus League plate appearances; meanwhile, the players vying for the first-base job seem to all be scorching hot at the plate. Tapia's prospect shine and previous performance could lead the Rockies to test his ability to play every day in the majors, although the rough spring showing could ultimately be his ticket back to Triple-A to start the season.
Tapia seems to be fifth on the outfield depth chart, meaning he'll likely have to begin the 2017 season in the minors, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports. Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez seem to be cemented into center and right field, respectively, leaving left field open for competition. However, fellow prospect David Dahl and veteran Gerardo Parra seem to be the leading candidates for the position, leaving Tapia out of the picture for the time being. As manager Bud Black acknowledged himself, though, lots of things can happen during spring training, so if injuries strike any of the projected major leaguers or if Tapia exceeds expectations this spring, he would likely be the first in line to garner a promotion to the major league squad. Regardless of where he starts, his hitting prowess and prospect shine should land him a job in Denver before the end of the season.
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