He uses his 6'4" frame and long arms to generate a special fastball. His heater has regularly been 95-98 mph, has touched 99, with plus sink. It alone can overpower South Atlantic League hitters.
A few weeks ago, I sat down with the 20-year old, for an interview, translated by Gnats' manager Luis Rojas. Due to the nature of translation, where Rojas was paraphrasing answers, presenting it as straight quotes did not seem not quite right.
The Hardest Part of his first three starts-The pressure of this first start. The next two or three he felt more comfortable.
His Baseball HistoryTapia began playing baseball at 12 years old and played every position, but pitcher was always his favorite. At 16, he started developing and throwing harder (mas duro) and realized it could be serious. (Note: my Spanish is quite limited, but there are certain types of conversations related either to baseball or skiing, I can more or less follow, or at least pick out relevant phrases.)
Before he signed with the Mets, he had already thrown for a lot of teams, and the Mets saw him, they signed him immediately. He liked the Mets because at that time, Pedro Martinez was a Met. (Rules Note: he is listed in the media guide as signing on 12/16/09, on his 18th birthday. Internationals free agents are eligible to first sign as 16 year old from July 2nd through August 3st and as early as their birthday if they turn 16 between July 2 and August 31. Once a player turns 17, he can sign at any time.)
His FamilyThe is the second-oldest of eight children, six boys and two girls. The youngest is a girl who is currently five years old. When he was watching his brothers and sisters, their favorite activity was playing Nintendo. His father works at a cable company and his mother is a stay-at-home mom.
His pitch that needs the most workSlider (He answered this one in English, with one word. It was his only answer in English.)
His Change-upHe had two different changeup grips: a two-seam grip and a four-seam grip. He likes the two-seam grip. (Note: because he lives off his two-seam fastball, the Mets have encouraged him to focus on the two-seam change-up grip, which he has done.)
I suspect when I sat down with Tapia and Rojas, it was the first time he had done an interview with any member of the media.