Raimel Tapia Scouting Report (2014)
Raimel Tapia spent the winter as a prospect darling. After being included in top-100 lists, the Rockies outfielder was built up as a five tool outfielder with an elite ceiling. This made an April trip to Asheville a must. And when a second look at Tapia was rained out, another trip was planned to return to “Beer City USA” to scout him again. After two nights in a hotel and over 900 miles driven, the left-handed hitter is the third best prospect on his own team behind David Dahl and Ryan McMahon. In person, Tapia presented as a smaller, less explosive version of 2013 South Atlantic League Most Valuable Player Rosell Herrera.
Is Tapia really 6-foot-2? If he is, the outfielder played much smaller. In batting practice, Raimel Tapia showed little power next to other prospects in the game. David Dahl, Ryan McMahon, Travis Demeritte, Jairo Beras, Nomar Mazara and Ronald Guzman all presented with better BP power — by a wide margin.
Then, a two game sample yielded a couple of hard hit balls to the pull side, but little ability to lift and/or drive baseballs to the outfield. At 175 pounds, it’s likely he’ll grow into more power, but Tapia’s swing path will need tweaking to add lift — especially with two strikes where he utilizes an extra wide stance.
At present, the hit tool is Tapia’s best. With a natural feel for contact, he rarely swings-and-misses. In multiple at bats, Tapia fought balls off in pitcher’s counts — even when badly off-balanced. An area for improvement is Tapia’s timing mechanism. The stop and start in his load has Tapia out front on nearly every swing. A more flowing walkaway stride and swing would be helpful. With quick hands, he doesn’t have to cheat. A better swing rhythm will allow Tapia to sit back on pitches longer, resulting in harder contact and more lift. In Tapia’s video, the first swing was his best swing and didn’t have the hesitation present in other at bats.
His batting eye has potential even though Raimel Tapia has just four walks through his first 15 games. While not afraid to work deep counts, Tapia looks for fastballs early — to his detriment at times. From the knees to the torso is where Tapia makes solid contact. At the letters, upper 80’s velocity can beat him. Tapia’s two strike stance (reminiscent of 1980’s Tony Fernandez) helps protect against this by shrinking the zone, but he becomes defensive at the plate. At some point, he’ll have to show the ability to drive pitches in all counts — including two strikes.
On defense, Tapia played right and left field, appearing more comfortable in left. He runs the outfield with plodding feet and is often late on breaks. Time and experience will help with reading balls off the bat, but Tapia’s general lack of speed is concerning. Yes, Tapia is only 20, but a two game sample was enough to project him as a corner outfielder who lacks the wheels and instincts for center field.
With Raimel Tapia projecting as a corner outfielder, arm strength determines whether right or left field is his future home. Unfortunately, the Rockies prospect presented with a below average throwing arm. Will added size and physical development help Tapia incorporate more legs and core strength into throws? Maybe, but arm strength is considered a tool because natural ability plays reigns supreme.
As a base runner, Tapia has struggled to steal bases at a reasonable rate of success. With just 41 stolen bases in 69 (59%), his presenting with 45 speed is not surprising. A flat foot runner, the question is whether or not Raimel Tapia can maintain his present speed for years to come? If he adds muscle mass and gains 30 pounds, he’ll slow even more.
At 20, Tapia is a solid, but unspectacular prospect. In not knowing the origin of his prospect helium, it’s difficult to identify what caused his level of buzz to reach a fever pitch. In expecting a future star, I scouted a fourth outfielder. And while any future Major Leaguer is a quality “get” in the South Atlantic League, Raimel Tapia was billed as much more.
Tool Present Future Projected Role Fourth Outfielder Hitting Ability 35 50 Power 25 40 Speed 45 40 Fielding Ability 35 45 Arm 30 40
Owning Raimel Tapia
In Reality Fantasy Baseball, an owner bid more than 4.4 million for Tapia. Throughout the winter, the outfielder was everybody’s sleeper target as Tapia questions dominated live chats and emails. Meanwhile, ROTOscouting was busy discussing the risk of going big on international players with small track records. Wait for a hot Asheville home stand and sell Tapia.
21 Apr 2014 / Mike Newman / 7
1-On-1 ROTO Strategy Session
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