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Raimel Tapia is not the outfielder of the present just yet

Despite a stellar season between Double- and Triple-A, Tapia might need a little more time before being a full-time big leaguer.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

When you watch Raimel Tapia bat with two strikes on the count, you see him crouch over the plate, making a zig-zag formation out of his body. You wonder, “What in the world is this?” But then he swings, and then you wonder even more what just happened.

More often than not, his approach at the plate leads to a high average. At Double-A Hartford, Tapia hit .323 and at Triple-A Albuquerque, .346. No wonder this kid is gonna go far.

Tapia began the season with the stadium-less Hartford YardGoats and did what he does best: hit for average. One of the things with Tapia is that he can get on base via a hit easily, but his walk rate leaves a little to be desired. in 457 plate appearances with Hartford, Tapia drew 25 walks and struck out 49 times. He hit for a line of .323/.363/.450, but the stat lines don’t tell everything, of course.

That being said, Tapia earned an Eastern League End of Season All-Star Nod and was an Eastern League All-Star. Not only that, but Tapia was also named to the MLB Futures team, where he had an impressive performance. Not only is he making waves in the Rockies organization, but the baseball world, as well. If the stance alone hasn’t made him known, his skills at the plate certainly will.

He made the leap to Triple-A in early August and by Aug. 9, he was with Albuquerque. He played 24 games and hit .346/.355/.490. It’s a small sample size, and you do what you can with Pacific Coast League stats, but stat line alone, it seemed like he made the necessary adjustments from Double- to Triple-A.

Then came Sept. 1. Tapia was called up and he made his Major League debut on the 2nd of the month. The move to the big leagues was a bit trickier for the outfielder, as he hit .263/.293/.263 in 41 plate appearances. Not great, but also not a cause for concern. Simply, Tapia needs more time in Triple-A to adjust. In one month alone, a player might not be able to make the adjustment from Double-A to Triple-A to MLB, as was Tapia’s trajectory; that’s also not saying that he’s incapable of adjusting, but merely that he needs more time to learn the proper adjustments to make so that he can be successful.

2017 Outlook

Tapia will likely join the big league squad for spring training, but don’t be surprised if he starts the season in Triple-A Albuquerque again. With only one month of Triple-A playing time under his belt, he stands to gain a lot more knowledge by getting regular playing time and regular at-bats. But also, don’t expect Tapia to spend the whole season in Albuquerque. Chances are, he’ll be too impressive to keep down in the minor leagues for long.

Raimel Tapia is the outfielder of the future, but he’s not yet the outfielder of the present.