When Raimel Tapia gets like this, there's not a lot opposing pitchers can do about it.
"He's one of those hitters who can get on a good streak," said Tapia's manager Fred Ocasio. "He's on a good streak now."
The eighth-ranked Rockies prospect went 4-for-6 with a grand slam, five RBIs and two runs scored in Class A Asheville's 17-6 romp over visiting Rome on Thursday. His four hits came in consecutive innings.
The Dominican Republic native had a 29-game hitting streak en route to taking the Rookie-level Pioneer League batting title with a .357 average in 2013, his first year playing in the United States. He had a 5-for-7, four-RBI game for the Tourists on June 8, and he's hit safely in all but one of five games since.
"Earlier in the year, he wasn't struggling, but everything he had as a hitter was not there," Ocasio said. "Now he's swinging the bat well with two strikes, and he's not swinging at any of those balls in the dirt. He's putting good wood on the ball."
The 20-year-old outfielder hit .244 through the first month of the season. After Thursday's game, that mark is up to .311.
"His strike zone discipline was not there," Ocasio said. "He was getting himself out with balls that were not even strikes. Right now, he has a real good approach going. He has good confidence going out to play every day."
Tapia struck out in his first at-bat, but came through with an infield single in the third inning.
"It was a chopper with two strikes. He hit it hard and it hopped over the pitcher [Matt Marksberry]," Ocasio said. "He does have speed and the shortstop [Johan Camargo] didn't have a chance to get him."
The next inning, Tapia stepped to the dish with the bases loaded and no outs. He pulled Braves reliever Tyler Vail's first offering over the wall in right field.
"He was excited. He hit it pretty good, pretty far," Ocasio said. "Tapia's one of those kids that's always smiling, always happy. Now that he's swinging the bat so well, he has a very big smile."
In the next frame, he lined a single off the glove of Rome pitcher Andy Otero, and his sixth-inning liner passed unobstructed into center field and scored No. 13 Rockies prospect Emerson Jimenez.
Jimenez had a big night too. He went 3-for-4 with four RBIs and a double that would have been a home run in most South Atlantic League parks.
"That ball was hit solid," Ocasio said of Jimenez's sixth-inning, two-run two-bagger off Otero. "Here in Asheville, we have a high wall out there, so I knew off the that it was going to hit the fence, but that was a hard-hit ball. He had a good at-bat there, lefty on lefty."
Jimenez is batting .333 in 18 games for the Tourists.
"He's been swinging well ever since got here from extended [spring training]," Ocasio said.