Colorado Rockies Prospects: Tom Murphy and Raimel Tapia

Tom Murphy of the Colorado Rockies

Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Our colleagues at Call to the Pen recently took a look at the top 10 Colorado Rockies prospects for 2017. You can check it out here as well as learn exactly what went into the formula to pick the top 10.

There are four players on the list who played for the Rockies last season — Jeff Hoffman, German Marquez, Tom Murphy and Raimel Tapia. Only two of those were ranked in the top 5 of Call to the Pen’s list, so it’s just another indication of the bright future that lies ahead for the Rockies thanks to their strong farm system.

In a previous article you can read here, we took a look at the impact of Hoffman and Marquez not only last year but their potential heading into 2017. In this article, we’ll discuss Murphy and Tapia in the same framework.

Tom Murphy

Murphy joined David Dahl last season as two of the prospects who joined the Rockies who had the most fanfare before their arrival in Denver. He quickly proved the excitement was well deserved.

In 44 at-bats last season, Murphy blasted five homers as part of his .273 average. His biggest game of the season came on September 17 when he hit a pair of homers and five RBI to back up Jon Gray’s historic 16-strikeout performance against the San Diego Padres.

Murphy has shown enough at the plate that many are penciling him in as the starting catcher in 2017. As mentioned in this article, he Rockies are confident enough in Murphy and Tony Wolters handling duties next year that veteran Nick Hundley is searching for a new team.

While Murphy has shown power in his limited at-bats, he still needs to improve on his defense. Last season, he threw out just one of eight runners attempting to steal a base. That must improve. Ironically, Murphy’s defensive struggles are almost the complete opposite of Wolters, who has become one of the best framing catchers in the league in a very short amount of time, yet struggles with his bat.

Murphy’s progress in the offseason will be one of the more interesting things to see when the Rockies open spring training. Under the watch of new bench coach Mike Redmond, if Murphy can improve defensively, he’ll prove Colorado’s faith in him for 2017 was well-warranted.

Sep 4, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies center fielder Raimel Tapia (68) in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Raimel Tapia

While Murphy has a pretty clear idea of what his 2017 season with the Rockies will hold, the same can’t be said for Tapia. He’s in the middle of a crowded outfield mix that includes Dahl, Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, Gerardo Parra and Jordan Patterson.

Tapia got some increased playing time for the Rockies in September when Blackmon was out with an injury. He made a splash in his Major League debut, opening his career with a four-game hitting streak, going 7-for-15 in his first four MLB contests. However, he went just 3-for-23 the rest of the season. Strikeouts were a big concern last season with Tapia as he whiffed 11 times in 38 at-bats while walking just twice.

Speed is the biggest asset that Tapia brings to the Rockies. It’s a small sample size, but Tapia went 3-for-3 on steals last season. He also always caused excitement at the plate, knowing a slow roller in the infield could easily turn into a base hit.

Don’t be surprised to see Tapia start 2017 in Triple-A as he continues to improve his work at the plate. He hit .328 between Double-A and Triple-A last season so the skills are there. They just need to translate to the Major League level.

Additionally, there’s a logjam in the outfield. Unless the Rockies trade off an outfielder in the offseason as has been rumored constantly during the winter meetings timeframe, it will be tough for Tapia to find playing time. Even if a trade does happen and an outfielder moves, the Rockies have just signed Ian Desmond (who has plenty of outfield experience) to a big contract. Of course, if another first baseman isn’t signed, Desmond will hold down first base. Still, the Rockies have a plethora of outfielders.

Tapia’s time in Denver will come. It just won’t be at the start of the 2017 season.

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