Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Tapia homers in audition for leadoff spot

Hoffman's adrenaline flowing in start; top prospect Rodgers goes deep
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies' Raimel Tapia unveiled his Charlie Blackmon imitation Friday afternoon.

The Rockies are considering dropping center fielder Blackmon -- after his 37 home runs and 103 (of his 104 total) RBIs from leadoff to third in the order, but must find another leadoff hitter to do so. Tapia has bat-to-ball skills and speed associated with leadoff hitters.

View Full Game Coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies' Raimel Tapia unveiled his Charlie Blackmon imitation Friday afternoon.

The Rockies are considering dropping center fielder Blackmon -- after his 37 home runs and 103 (of his 104 total) RBIs from leadoff to third in the order, but must find another leadoff hitter to do so. Tapia has bat-to-ball skills and speed associated with leadoff hitters.

View Full Game Coverage

So in the third inning of the 7-6, 10-inning loss to the D-backs in the Cactus League opener, Tapia homered to the opposite gap, left-center, off Silvino Bracho. Tapia hit his first two Major League home runs last season, when he made six trips up from Triple-A Albuquerque, and had never hit more than 12 at any Minor League stops.

Tapia is not exactly a hulking figure. At 6-2, he needed a 15-pound offseason gain to reach his current 180 pounds. He will try to push for a job and starts using his hitting and speed, but strength isn't a bad addition. Tapia has seven Major League starts at the top of the order.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I'm not nervous; I'm happy," Tapia said. "I'm leading off, and that's more of a chance."

Manager Bud Black said, "That ball was hit well. In the early work, he's shown a little opposite-field thump. That's good to see."

Not to be forgotten …
With Gerardo Parra out with a hand injury, and Blackmon and Ian Desmond delaying their Cactus League debuts, Tapia, David Dahl and Mike Tauchman had their chances. For Dahl, the news was merely being on the field. After battling a rib injury that led to back pain all year, he was shut down after a July 31 game while with Albuquerque.

Tauchman, who debuted last season and was used as a pinch-hitter, tripled off the center-field wall in the fifth inning.

Video: ARI@COL: Tauchman rips a triple into right-center

Honoring the school
Third-base prospect Colton Welker, a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., had an eighth-inning at bat and lined to center -- where he was robbed by a diving Rey Fuentes. His school was the site of a school shooting last week that left 17 dead. Teams across Spring Training wore the school's initials on their caps.

Video: Baseball pays tribute to Stoneman Douglas victims

Adrenaline can be tough to control
Starter Jeff Hoffman threw two scoreless innings with a strikeout and a double-play grounder, but two walks. Hoffman had better feeling for his fastball and changeup than his breaking pitches but has to check his excitement.

"I had a lot of adrenaline going, and part of me getting out of my delivery or whatever it was for those two batters had a little to do with it -- I was pretty jacked up," he said. "But as we get out there the second and third time, that kind of anxiousness will go away."

Video: ARI@COL: Hoffman works two frames against the D-backs

One more on the way
Hoffman came from the Blue Jays in the 2015 deal that sent away shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The youngest piece of that trade, righty Jesus Tinoco, 22, made an up-and-down Rockies Cactus League debut -- 1-2-3 with a strikeout in his first frame, a three-run Michael Perez homer after a hit-batsman and a single in his second.

Tinoco went 3-11 with a 6.86 ERA at Class A stops Asheville and Modesto in 2016, and needed work staying in line with his delivery. Last year, he rebounded to go 11-4 with a 4.67 ERA at Class A Advanced Lancaster, with 107 strikeouts and 50 walks in 140 2/3 innings. It was enough to earn him a 40-man roster spot for his first Major League camp.

Tinoco's best pitches are his four-seam fastball and slider, with a two-seam fastball, curve and changeup developing. He gained confidence last year by finishing tied for second in the California League in wins and 11th in strikeouts.

" I was surprised to come for Tulowitzki," Tinoco said. "But with the trade, coming here, I'm the same person, working every day."

Black said of Tinoco, listed at 6-4 and 240, "He's got the right ingredients physically and mentally from what I've been told, and I'm getting to know him from the aptitude side. There's some upside."

He's No. 1
Shortstop Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies' top prospect according to MLB Pipeline, homered to left off Bradin Hagens to open the 10th.

"I like the way he bounced back after the first two pitches were out of the zone -- he's got that in him," Black said of Rodgers, who hit .336 with 18 homers and 64 RBIs combined Lancaster and Double-A Hartford.

Grab a glove
Parra, who underwent right (catching hand) hamate surgery Feb. 9, said he will put on a glove and field fly balls Saturday. He hopes to begin swinging a bat next week and be ready for batting practice in 10 days.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, David Dahl, Jeff Hoffman, Gerardo Parra, Brendan Rodgers, Raimel Tapia