Raimel Tapia

From BR Bullpen

Raimel Antonio Tapia Linarez

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 160 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Outfielder Raimel Tapia was considered one of the top prospects in baseball when he made his big league debut at the end of the 2016 season.

He was signed by the Colorado Rockies as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic before the 2011 season. He began his pro career that year with the DSL Rockies, hitting .262 in 67 games at the age of 17. He was with the same team in 2012, improving to .316 in 63 games. He began his U.S. career with a splash in 2013 as he won the Pioneer League batting title with a mark of .357 in 66 games for the Grand Junction Rockies. It was not an empty average, either, as he added 20 doubles, 6 triples and 7 homers, scored 53 runs and drove in 47.

Before the 2014 season, Baseball America named Raimel the #97 prospect in baseball, his first time cracking the top 100 prospects list. That season, he played for the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League, hitting .326/.382/.453 in 122 games. He hit 32 doubles and 9 homers, scored 93 runs and drove in 72 and also stole 33 bases. This excellent all-around performance improved his prospect ranking to #45 as the 2015 season began. He spent that year with the Modesto Nuts of the California League, where he hit .305/.333/.467 in 131 games. he continued to show good power, with 34 doubles, 9 triples and 12 homers. He was named to play in the 2015 Futures Game. He then hit .330 in 37 games for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League after the season. Now ranked at #42 by Baseball America, he began the 2016 season with the Hartford Yard Goats, Colorado's new affiliate in the AA Eastern League. he was hitting well over .300 at mid-season when for the second straight year, he was selected to be a member of the World team at the Futures Game.

As the starting left fielder for the Rockies at the beginning of the 2021 season, he was involved in two strange plays in three days in the opening series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Coors Field. On Opening Day, April 1st, Cody Bellinger hit a ball that came in and out of his glove to end up over the fence, but baserunner Chris Turner, thinking he had caught the ball, retreated and crossed paths with Bellinger, putting him out and reducing the homer to a single. Two days later, it was rookie Zach McKinstry who hit a ball in the same spot; this time, he prevented the ball from going over the fence, but crashed into the fence and McKinstry ended up with an inside-the-park homer, ironically the first hit by the Dodgers that year as Bellinger's had been nullified. Tapia had to leave the game with an injury. The injury was not serious and he ended up playing 133 games for the Rockies, batting .273 with 6 homers and 50 RBI; he also stole a career-high 2 bases, in 26 attempts. His OPS+ was 80.

On March 24, 2022, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays along with minor league infielder Adrian Pena in return for OF Randal Grichuk. Grichuk was a better hitter, but the Jays were looking to have a more athletic player to be their fourth outfielder, in addition to a lefty hitter, a key consideration for a Jays team loaded with righthanders. The Blue Jays also threw in $9.7 million, representing roughly half of the value of the two years remaining on Grichuk's contract. In 128 games for the Jays, Tapia hit .265, but his OBP was just .292 given how few walks he drew (16 in 433 plate appearances), leading to an OPS+ of 92. And for all his speed, he stole only 8 bases, while not playing particularly well on defense: if the idea had been to give CF George Springer an occasional rest, it did not really work, as he ended up playing more in left field than anywhere else. The highlight of his season came on July 22nd, when Boston red Sox CF Jarren Duran misjudged a fly ball he hit to center, and it dropped behind him and rolled to the fence for an inside-the-park grand slam as part of a record-setting 28-5 win at Fenway Park. He appeared briefly in the postseason, going 0 for 6 while filling in for an injured Lourdes Gurriel in left field as the Jays were swept at home by the Seattle Mariners in the Wild Card Series.

Tapia became a free agent after the 2022 season and the Blue Jays did not seek to re-sign him. He found a job with the Boston Red Sox but ended up being released twice and suiting up with three teams in 2023, including the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays in addition to the Sox. He did not get even 100 at-bats with any of the three teams, ending up at .236 in 64 games, with an OPS+ of 79 even if he did manage to improve his OBP to a more palatable .317. This time, it was his lack of extra-base power that sunk him and led to his repeated changes of uniform. He did make highlight reels following the season, but it was for hitting a classic Little League home run in the Dominican League. Playing for the Estrellas Orientales against the Tigres del Licey on January 5, 2024, he came to bat against Hansel Robles with Alfredo Reyes on first base and the game still scoreless in the 7th inning. He laid down a nice bunt down the third base line, and then a comedy of errors took place, including a wild throw by 3B Dawel Lugo, another wild throw by the rightfielder, and to cap it off a poor throw by Lugo to the plate to allow both runners to circle the bases on the seemingly innocuous play. Those were the only two runs of the game.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL Singles Leader (2020)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Rob Gillies (Associated Press): "Blue Jays trade Grichuk and $9.7M to Rockies for Tapia", Yahoo! News, March 24, 2022. [1]
  • Thomas Harding: "This big leaguer moonlights as a farmer", mlb.com, March 20, 2021. [2]
  • Keegan Matheson: "Tapia traded to Blue Jays; Rox get Grichuk in return", mlb.com, March 24, 2022. [3]
  • Brian Murphy: "A bunt becomes a 'home run' in Dominican Winter League", mlb.com, January 5, 2024. [4]

Related Sites[edit]