BLUF: Power arm with excellent present fastball/change-up and projection in other areas.
The Player: Domingo Tapia (RHP, New York Mets) – Tapia didn’t sign with the Mets until he was 17-years old in 2009 and didn’t debut until 2010. He started three games in the DSL before coming stateside and starting ten games in the GCL. Across 58.2 innings at both levels that year he posted a combined 3.38 ERA with 15 walks and 34 strikeouts. In the Appy League in 2011, Tapia showed big arm strength en route to a 3.78 ERA in 11 starters, followed by one dominating outing in the New York-Penn League at the end of the season. The Mets pushed him to Low-A in 2012 and he rewarded their faith with a 3.98 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning in 108.2 innings.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Industry Contacts
Body (6-4, 190): Preferential frame/body. Long legs that thicken through the thighs and into the backside. Good present strength in lower half. Long arms and fingers as well. Broad shoulders and a relatively thin upper body with room for additional strength. Potential for premium pitcher’s body.
Delivery/Mechanics: Loose, easy arm action. Good arm speed and he keeps his upper and lower halves in sync well. Low ¾ arm slot that approaches side-arm at times but the arm works throughout the delivery. Everything looks easy. Stays balanced throughout the finish, allowing him to remain in a fielding position.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 99, Low – 91, Average 94-95, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 98, Low 91, Average 94-95, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Tons of movement. Ball has sink and consistently moves to the arm side as well. Buries FB in on RHH because of natural movement. Has trouble commanding at times because movement can be so extreme. The ball just takes off. Plus movement. Could improve understanding of where the ball is going to go (ie, better feel for where FB ends up depending on grip, velo, etc.). Grade – 60/60
Overall Fastball: FB continues to develop and sit in higher range of velo register with easy passing year. Bumped from sitting 92-94 in 2011 to 94-95 in 2012. Still has room for additional strength that could lead to another bump in the average velo. Should settle with plus-plus velo as a starter and could have near-elite to elite velo in short bursts. True plus-plus pitch long term with overpowering velo and unhittable movement. FB already plays at a plus-plus level because of movement combined with raw velo. Premium pitch now that could play elite even without velo bump because of movement. Grade – 70/70
Slider (SL): Occasional sharp pitch. Struggles to stay on top of pitch with lower arm angle; hand gets around the side of the ball rather than getting over top of it. When it’s right, SL shows both vertical and horizontal movement. Lacks command of pitch and generally just throws it at the zone. Pitch adds horizontal glove-side movement to arsenal. Needs significant development. Currently grades below-average with some potential for average but pitch is high-risk offering that may not come together. Grade – 40/50
Change-up (CH): Good arm speed with same arm slot as FB. Ball comes out clean and looks the part of FB as it leaves the hand, but shows good 10 mph velo differential. Plus sink that can get the ball below the barrel of the bat. Reliable pitch that he goes to frequently. Easy plus that compliments FB well. Very refined pitch for his age. Grade – 60/60
Control: Throws strikes with FB and CH. Can pound the zone with both pitches. Delivery is clean and control projection is easily maintained when looking forward. Easy average control now with projection for plus. Grade – 50/60
Command: Has command projection but hasn’t made huge strides yet. Command is difficult because of natural movement on both FB and CH. Below-average command now and could take a while to reach average level, but has potential to get there. Will never be pinpoint but should have more than enough for success. Grade – 40/50
Summation: Highly intriguing arm that is developing nicely with additional innings. FB has present plus velo and may tick up again with strength and more innings. Movement on FB is fantastic and makes pitch play up a grade. Potentially special pitch with unusual combination of velo and movement. Can play up further in short stints but works really well stretched out as a starter. CH is a second weapon with excellent sink, good arm action and deception. CH is easy plus and can be thrown in any count. Has supreme confidence in FB and CH. SL lags behind but shows flashes of being useable. Potential average pitch that provides multi-plane element to arsenal. Control is present and has room for growth; subsequent command growth is likely as well. Has ingredients to stick in a rotation. Likely lack of high-end breaking ball limits ceiling but he could still be a three/four type. Backup plan in bullpen where he could be a viable closer option. Really promising arm with above-average potential as SP and impact/premium potential in relief role.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Has two present weapons in arsenal with control/command projection; two potential paths to big leagues.
Future: Tapia needs innings to continue refining his control/command as well as his SL. Will continue to get innings as SP in High-A in 2013 and could see another level late in the year with sustained success throughout. Unlikely to move rapidly but could be big league ready in 2015; possibly quicker in a relief role.