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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Colorado Rockies announced on Tuesday that outfielder Raimel Tapia and catcher Tom Murphy have been optioned to Triple-A, bringing the total number of players in MLB camp down to 28, nearing the final number of 25.
These moves almost certainly mean that Ryan McMahon and Mike Tauchman will be the final two members of the big league roster come Opening Day. It also pretty much cements Tony Wolters as the primary backup catcher.
McMahon and Tauchman finished first and second in hits for Colorado this spring with 22 and 20 respectively and Tauchman was awarded the Abby Greer award for best performance in spring training. McMahon has long been seen as a potential star player for the Rockies, but with limited time at the big leagues (and even in Triple-A) a year ago, it was no foregone conclusion that he would make the roster.
We can’t say for sure what role either will play but it seems likely that McMahon will get his opportunities to start at first base, spelling Ian Desmond and/or allowing him to move into the outfield and give one of Charlie Blackmon, Gerardo Parra, or Carlos Gonzalez a rest. He can also step in at third base anytime Nolan Arenado needs a break.
Tauchman can be used as a weapon off the bench with his above-average speed, ability to play all three outfield positions, and a bat that is ever increasing in power potential. To hear Tauchman speak about his 2017 campaign and 2018 plans, check out this episode of the BSN Rockies Podcast.
Murphy has shown a ton of potential with the bat but has lagged behind defensively as a catcher. Additionally, he spent much of last season recovering from a broken hand and hasn’t been able to establish a rhythm. If he can find his bat in Triple-A though, he will emerge as an intriguing bench option later in the season.
Tapia had a decent chance to make the club after a good showing at MLB last season but didn’t show enough of his patented contact skills to make up for a few deficiencies in baserunning and defense. The Rockies will want him to work on ironing those things out and getting full confidence back in his swing. Either way, Tapia will play for the major league team at some point this season. Manager Bud Black and Director of Player Development Zach Wilson have both reiterated to BSN Denver in the past few days how encouraged they were by Tapia’s growth and contributions down the stretch and even in the Wild Card game in 2017.
With Tapia, Murphy, David Dahl, Jordan Patterson, and pitchers like Jeff Hoffman and Carlos Estevez beginning there, the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes should be a pretty fun team to watch.