It’s been a real tough season for Domingo Tapia. He’s battled with injury, but mostly just being inconsistent on the mound. He doesn’t have any feel for the strike zone this year; his 5.4 BB/9 rate is approximately double any mark he had in his career the three seasons prior. The native Dominican once again struggled this week against Bradenton. He allowed seven runs on four hits, four walks, and two strikeouts in just 1.1 innings pitched.
That performance earned him a spot in the “Not Hot” section of Baseball America’s weekly Prospect Hot Sheet. Here’s what the BA staff had to say about Tapia’s 2013 season:
Tapia’s stuff hasn’t been the same as it was in 2012, when his fastball hit 98 mph and his changeup looked like a potentially plus pitch. The 21-year-old has struggled to a 2-8, 5.00 mark in 19 starts for high Class A St. Lucie, but Wednesday’s outing at Bradenton might’ve been his low point. Tapia recorded just four outs while giving up seven runs (all earned) on four hits and four walks.
That pretty much hits it on the head. You have to feel for him because it has to be frustrating to deal with. He’s still striking out hitters at his normal rate (73 Ks in 81 IP), but he’s walked 49 batters in addition to that.
Coming into this season, the right-hander was ranked eighth in MMN’s top-25 prospect list, but his poor performance thus far in 2013 has landed him back all the way to number 15. Here’s what Satish R. had to say about Tapia about a month ago before his season went from bad to worse:
It’s really difficult to count a guy with a fastball like Tapia’s out. I mean, he could probably still turn out to be a dominant relief pitcher with just his fastballs and change-up, but the potential is there for so much more. It’s hard for me to say that I have as much confidence in him as a starter as I did before, but the thought can still be floated out there. Some have discussed the idea of him living as a starter without a breaking pitch, and just the two fastballs and a change-up… I’ll give that mentality some time before I buy into it 100%, but it’s looking like it’s either that or he becomes a closer.
If he doesn’t get his control problem fixed, it would take a lot of convincing for me to think this guy could ever be a good relief pitcher if being a starter doesn’t work out. One of the most important things about being a reliever is coming in and throwing strikes (especially as a closer). Time will tell to see what happens with Tapia moving forward; he is still just 21-years-old, and in High-A. However, the competition isn’t going to get any easier from here.