The Colorado Rockies rolled the dice on a bevy of players entering the 2019 season, including outfielder Raimel Tapia.
Fellow youngsters Ryan McMahon, Garrett Hampson, Peter Lambert and Brendan Rodgers have all been entrusted by the Rockies organization to help the franchise take the next step both this season and beyond.
So far the Rockies have amassed a 32-29 record this season. The Rockies’ success has been a collaborative team effort. While big guns Nolan Areando and Trevor have made a tremendous impact, so have the budding players around the diamond.
This year has been a momentaneous opportunity for Tapia to showcase his talents.
After brief stints with the major league club in 2016, 2017 and 2018, the Rockies have provided Tapia with a legitimate shot to earn his keep this season.
Initially serving as the Rockies’ fourth outfielder, Tapia has become a regular fixture in the Rockies’ lineup due to the lack of consistency from Ian Desmond and an injury to Charlie Blackmon.
Tapia is hitting .267 with 22 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .307 so far this season and has played a significant role for the Rockies, hitting a walk-off base hit earlier in the year while being pegged all throughout Colorado’s lineup.
“I’m feeling good thanks be to God,” Tapia said. “I feel like I’m doing good work. When we concentrate like this and do good work, it comes out good for all of us.”
Tapia has hit safely in 30 of his last 35 starts, batting .283 (42-for-148) with 14 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 21 RBIs over that span.
“Over the first third of the season, he has done a nice job overall for us,” Manager Bud Black said. “He’s been a contributor.”
Tapia has made his most significant impact this season out of the leadoff hole for the Rockies, a slot in the lineup he is very familiar with given his days in Colorado’s minor league system.
“I feel good because in the minor leagues I was always was in the first batting spot,” Tapia said. “Here I believe it is the same as minor leagues, the pitchers are veterans, but I feel good because I’ve done this before in the minor leagues.”
While Tapia’s average is not incredibly high as a leadoff hitter this season, he has done a solid job of setting the table for the rest of the Rockies’ lineup. During his stretch as a leadoff hitter, Tapia logged a 12-game hit streak which included 12 runs, five doubles, three RBIs and four walks.
“He’s taking good at-bats, hitting the ball hard and making the pitchers work,” Arenado said of Tapia. “He’s an aggressive hitter, and he’s getting on base and causing problems on the base paths. He’s been a problem for the other teams, and it’s been really nice to have him (at leadoff).
Black has been pleased with Tapia’s production and understands his value as a leadoff hitter.
“He’s comfortable there,” Black said. “He spent a lot of time leadoff in the minor leagues. It’s something he is very comfortable with, and he takes great pride in starting the game as a leadoff hitter. He likes the responsibility of being that guy.
Some players tend to tinker with their mindset or mechanics depending on where they are hitting in the lineup, but Tapia’s approach remains consistent regardless of the situation.
“No no no,” Tapia said of if he changes anything when hitting leadoff. “My mentality is always the same. I always try to do my job, whether that is batting seventh or first.”
Tapia has been working for his current opportunity since he made his debut in 2016 and uses his tenure in the minor leagues to fuel his drive at the major league level.
“(I’ll) Keep working hard,” Tapia said. “Don’t change anything. Keep doing what I started in minor leagues and continue moving forward.”
With Blackmon now reinstated from the injured list, Tapia will likely go back to being moved throughout the lineup. Tapia has always had the potential to be a solid all-around big league player, and he is getting his first real shot to demonstrate his abilities this season.