Domingo Tapia, SP: Like always, some of you minor league savvy readers may be familiar with Domingo Tapia. Tapia is a guy most people pegged as the Mets sleeper prospect of the year. Keith Law ranked Tapia 7th on his Mets top prospects list and had this to say:
“Right-hander Domingo Tapia is 6-foot-5 and hits triple digits as a starter with some sink on the pitch. He pairs it with a solid to above-average changeup that produced a reverse split in his 50 innings in Kingsport last year. He’ll need a more consistent breaking ball to project as a top-end starter, but the velocity and changeup are a good start.”
Paul Depodesta, Mets’ VP of Player Development, when asked who fans should keep their eyes on this season answered:
“Domingo Tapia and Rafael Montero. Both guys have a chance to emerge as our next group of top tier potential ML starting pitchers. They both have power stuff (Tapia routinely touched 100 mph last summer), and both pound the strike zone.”
One can see that this guy was getting quietly hyped up before this season here, but no one’s hype compares to the Hype Files. As said above, Tapia has a fastball that has sink and hits 100 MPH. By the way, did anyone mention Tapia is only 20 years old? To go along with that sinker, Tapia has a changeup that compliments it well. Unfortunately, Tapia is missing a breaking pitch to keep more advanced hitters honest.
This lack of a breaking ball is what kept Tapia as a sleeper instead of consistently getting top ten prospect recognition. For someone who hits triple digits on the radar gun, Tapia does not strike out a ton of people. In 56 innings last year, Tapia only struck out 36 batters. This year he has fared better, but not as much as one would like to see – 62 Ks in 73 innings. If he can develop a breaking ball, the strike outs will come, but as of now he is a two pitch pitcher.
You may be asking, but Steve aren’t you hyping this guy? Yes reader, I am because despite the lack of a third pitch, there is a lot to like about Tapia. Tapia has sported a sub 4 ERA in every level he has been, including a 3.45 ERA (as of 7/27/12) in the South Atlantic League this year. Also, the Mets see Tapia as an important piece of their future. The Mets shut down Tapia for almost all of June to rest his arm and make sure he does not pitch too many innings. After Tapia’s May 29 start, he did not make another start until June 26th.
However, the best part about Tapia is his sinker. Dominant groundball pitchers can become workhorses for a pitching rotation and have the potential to pan out as top of the rotation starters. As of today, Tapia’s groundout to air out (GO/AO), which takes a pitchers groundouts and divides it by their air outs, is 3.20. In comparison, Brandon Webb, one of the game’s greatest groundball pitchers, had a career GO/AO of 3.22. As one can see, Tapia is on the right track right now. If he can keep that up, he won’t need to strike out 8 or 9 batters a game, his sinker will be enough.
The sky is the limit for Tapia. If he can start striking out more batters and refine his sinker even more, he has a shot to help anchor a rotation. If he never really develops an out pitch, his sinker may be enough to make him a workhorse middle of the rotation starter. Can this Mets fan dream of the game’s next dominant groundball pitcher? How’s that for hype?