Scouting Yankees Prospect #1: Jose Tabata

The Yankees signed outfielder Jose Tabata out of Venezuela for $500,000 as a 16-year old in 2004. The career .305 hitter was once again one of the youngest players in his league last season and chipped in with a .307 average with the Tampa Yankees, but yet his critics still point to his lack of home runs. The Yankees however are not the least bit concerned.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Jose Tabata
Position: Outfield
DOB: August 12, 1988
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 205
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"Absolutely not," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said emphatically. "I think he was the youngest player in the Florida State League this year and he hit over .300. The conversation should end right there.

"The Florida State League, first of all, is a bandbox. It's big-time ballparks so it's not a home run place. Regardless, he [was] 18-years old, he came in and hit .300 in the Florida State League. He's a child amongst men, and to have that type of success is something we're excited about his potential."

One of the top prospects in the organization since debuting with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2005, Tabata has never hit below .298 in any one season even though he has faced much older competition along the way.

And while his middle-to-the-opposite field approach is mature beyond his years, he continually gets knocked for connecting on no more than five home runs in a given season.

"He's going to hit for a high average, I see that," said former Yankees hitting coordinator and current Toronto Blue Jays hitting coach Gary Denbo. "When we talk about developing hitters - my game plan for developing minor league hitters has been and will always be that power is the last thing we're concerned with.

"From a fans' standpoint, sure they'd like to see home run numbers and imagine what that might translate into at the major league level, but what we want to see is disciplined hitters. He's 19 years old in the Florida State League putting up outstanding offensive numbers."

Actually playing his entire 2007 season as an 18-year-old [he turned 19 three days after his last game] the Yankees are not only patient with his developing power game, they are puzzled as to why so many are expecting it to show up already.

"I don't have a concern at all," said Carlos Rios, the Yankees Director of Latin American Scouting. "We know the power is there. He's more focused on hitting for a high average and hitting doubles. I think as he matures and his body gets stronger, the power is there.

"Right now we want him to be a quality hitter and as he grows the power will be there. If you've seen him take BP, you know he's got power. That's got to be translated into the game, but that comes with at-bats. Remember he's a young kid."

Austin Jackson - Tabata's teammate over the last three years and who doubled Tabata's home run production in Tampa last season - is dumbfounded by the criticism.

"Everybody says that he needs to hit more home runs and my opinion on that is - for what? The guy is hitting over .300, he's on base, he's driving in runs, he's stealing bases - what more can you ask of the guy? In the minor leagues I don't see why they want a guy to hit a lot of home runs anyway because it's all about developing in the minor leagues.

"If a guy is hitting that much [home runs], he shouldn't even be in the minor leagues. Everybody says 'well he doesn't hit for enough power', but he's hitting .315 or .320. He's an incredible player."

Tying a career-high with five home runs last season, some wondered if chronic problems with his hamate bone, which Tabata had removed by season's end, zapped him of his developing power. Rios quickly dismisses that notion.

"No the injury didn't have anything to do with his lack of power," he quickly revealed. "The injury is something that happens to a lot of Latin hitters because they use their pinky in the bottom [of the bat].

"It's very common. If you look out there, there's a lot of guys who hit with the knob of the bat like that and get that type of surgery. Latin players, for years, like to use that. It's normal, it happens."

Staying at the minor league complex throughout the offseason to rehab his way back and reportedly in the best shape of his career, the Yankees believe Tabata is on the cusp of learning how to become a better power hitter.

"He's proving right now at this level that he's a good hitter," said current Yankees hitting coordinator James Rowson, who also served as Tabata's hitting coach at Tampa last season. "I think it's important that we recognize this guy is a good hitter first and his power will develop.

"He's going to hit for power, he's a big strong kid. Sometimes you have to take this time to learn what pitches and zones you handle best and that's what he was figuring out [last] year, what pitches he's able to handle best and drive out of the ballpark.

"He doesn't have to worry about his swing mechanics as much because he's got a good swing. I think this was a great year for him to get a feel for what he's able to do and he's only going to get better."

Year

Team

AVG

AB

2B

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

SO

OBP

SLG

2007 Tampa .307 411 16 5 54 56 15 33 70 .371 .392
2006 Charleston .298 319 22 5 51 50 15 30 66 .377 .420
2005 Gulf Coast .314 156 5 3 25 30 22 15 14 .382 .417


Batting and Power. Tabata is simply a phenomenal hitter. He has a powerful line-drive swing whose natural motion is up-the-middle to the opposite field. While he doesn't draw a lot of walks he does have a very patient approach offensively. His tremendous bat speed gives him excellent plate coverage as well. Not only can't opposing pitchers get fastballs inside by him, they have a hard time sneaking pitches on the outside as well and he has power to all fields. While his home run totals might not suggest it, he swings a pretty thunderous bat and he learned how to pull pitches much better last season in an effort to increase his power production.

Base Running and Speed. Tabata is an aggressive runner on the base paths. Despite being a somewhat average runner, perhaps slightly above average, he has averaged better than 17 stolen bases per year in his career. Having potential weight issues at points throughout his young career, he has begun to understand the value in taking care of his body by getting in better shape and that can only help his success in the running game.

Defense. Tabata has the ability to play all three outfield positions if called upon, but his less than superb speed relegates to him to playing centerfield only in emergency situations. And while his arm is quite strong, more than enough to man right field, he projects best as a big league left fielder - that's where he could shine as an above average defensive player.

Projection. Tabata's solid overall game is among the best at the minor league level and he is one of the safest bets to reach his potential in the entire farm system. Learning the importance of keeping himself in shape and getting stronger, his body has taken on a new dimension over the last year and that bodes well for his future success. His uncanny hitting ability and developing power project him as a potential three hitter in a big league lineup someday. Often compared to Manny Ramirez for the physical resemblance, some scouts envision him as a young Gary Sheffield type. Either way he has the chance to be that kind of special run producer.

ETA. 2008. Tabata will once again be one of the youngest players in his league when he starts the 2008 season in Double-A Trenton. Vowing to reach the big leagues this year after participating in big league camp last season, we're not about to doubt his ability to achieve that goal. While we have been projecting his ETA as 2009 for quite some time, expect him to get a cup of coffee with the Yankees sometime this season if he remains healthy.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Jose Tabata
\r\nPosition: Outfield
\r\nDOB: August 12, 1988
\r\nHeight: 5'11\"
\r\nWeight: 205
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\n\"Absolutely not,\" Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said emphatically. \"I think he was the youngest player in the Florida State League this year and he hit over .300. The conversation should end right there.
\r\n
\r\n\"The Florida State League, first of all, is a bandbox. It's big-time ballparks so it's not a home run place. Regardless, he [was] 18-years old, he came in and hit .300 in the Florida State League. He's a child amongst men, and to have that type of success is something we're excited about his potential.\"
\r\n
\r\nOne of the top prospects in the organization since debuting with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 2005, Tabata has never hit below .298 in any one season even though he has faced much older competition along the way.
\r\n
\r\nAnd while his middle-to-the-opposite field approach is mature beyond his years, he continually gets knocked for connecting on no more than five home runs in a given season.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's going to hit for a high average, I see that,\" said former Yankees hitting coordinator and current Toronto Blue Jays hitting coach Gary Denbo. \"When we talk about developing hitters - my game plan for developing minor league hitters has been and will always be that power is the last thing we're concerned with.
\r\n
\r\n\"From a fans' standpoint, sure they'd like to see home run numbers and imagine what that might translate into at the major league level, but what we want to see is disciplined hitters. He's 19 years old in the Florida State League putting up outstanding offensive numbers.\"
\r\n
\r\nActually playing his entire 2007 season as an 18-year-old [he turned 19 three days after his last game] the Yankees are not only patient with his developing power game, they are puzzled as to why so many are expecting it to show up already.
\r\n
\r\n\"I don't have a concern at all,\" said Carlos Rios, the Yankees Director of Latin American Scouting. \r\n\"We know the power is there. He's more focused on hitting for a high average and hitting doubles. I think as he matures and his body gets stronger, the power is there.
\r\n
\r\n\"Right now we want him to be a quality hitter and as he grows the power will be there. If you've seen him take BP, you know he's got power. That's got to be translated into the game, but that comes with at-bats. Remember he's a young kid.\"
\r\n
\r\nAustin Jackson - Tabata's teammate over the last three years and who doubled Tabata's home run production in Tampa last season - is dumbfounded by the criticism.
\r\n
\r\n\"Everybody says that he needs to hit more home runs and my opinion on that is - for what? The guy is hitting over .300, he's on base, he's driving in runs, he's stealing bases - what more can you ask of the guy? In the minor leagues I don't see why they want a guy to hit a lot of home runs anyway because it's all about developing in the minor leagues.
\r\n
\r\n\"If a guy is hitting that much [home runs], he shouldn't even be in the minor leagues. Everybody says 'well he doesn't hit for enough power', but he's hitting .315 or .320. He's an incredible player.\"
\r\n
\r\nTying a career-high with five home runs last season, some wondered if chronic problems with his hamate bone, which Tabata had removed by season's end, zapped him of his developing power. Rios quickly dismisses that notion.
\r\n
\r\n\"No the injury didn't have anything to do with his lack of power,\" he quickly revealed. \"The injury is something that happens to a lot of Latin hitters because they use their pinky in the bottom [of the bat].
\r\n
\r\n\"It's very common. If you look out there, there's a lot of guys who hit with the knob of the bat like that and get that type of surgery. Latin players, for years, like to use that. It's normal, it happens.\"
\r\n
\r\nStaying at the minor league complex throughout the offseason to rehab his way back and reportedly in the best shape of his career, the Yankees believe Tabata is on the cusp of learning how to become a better power hitter.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's proving right now at this level that he's a good hitter,\" said current Yankees hitting coordinator James Rowson, who also served as Tabata's hitting coach at Tampa last season. \"I think it's important that we recognize this guy is a good hitter first and his power will develop.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's going to hit for power, he's a big strong kid. Sometimes you have to take this time to learn what pitches and zones you handle best and that's what he was figuring out [last] year, what pitches he's able to handle best and drive out of the ballpark.
\r\n
\r\n\"He doesn't have to worry about his swing mechanics as much because he's got a good swing. I think this was a great year for him to get a feel for what he's able to do and he's only going to get better.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

Year

\r\n

Team

\r\n

AVG

\r\n

AB

\r\n

2B

\r\n

HR

\r\n

RBI

\r\n

R

\r\n

SB

\r\n

BB

\r\n

SO

\r\n

OBP

\r\n

SLG

\r\n 2007\r\n Tampa\r\n .307\r\n 411\r\n 16\r\n 5\r\n 54\r\n 56\r\n 15\r\n 33\r\n 70\r\n .371\r\n .392
\r\n 2006\r\n Charleston\r\n .298\r\n 319\r\n 22\r\n 5\r\n 51\r\n 50\r\n 15\r\n 30\r\n 66\r\n .377\r\n .420
\r\n 2005\r\n Gulf Coast\r\n .314\r\n 156\r\n 5\r\n 3\r\n 25\r\n 30\r\n 22\r\n 15\r\n 14\r\n .382\r\n .417

\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power. Tabata is simply a phenomenal hitter. He has a powerful line-drive swing whose natural motion is up-the-middle to the opposite field. While he doesn't draw a lot of walks he does have a very patient approach offensively. His tremendous bat speed gives him excellent plate coverage as well. Not only can't opposing pitchers get fastballs inside by him, they have a hard time sneaking pitches on the outside as well and he has power to all fields. While his home run totals might not suggest it, he swings a pretty thunderous bat and he learned how to pull pitches much better last season in an effort to increase his power production.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed. Tabata is an aggressive runner on the base paths. Despite being a somewhat average runner, perhaps slightly above average, he has averaged better than 17 stolen bases per year in his career. Having potential weight issues at points throughout his young career, he has begun to understand the value in taking care of his body by getting in better shape and that can only help his success in the running game.
\r\n
\r\nDefense. Tabata has the ability to play all three outfield positions if called upon, but his less than superb speed relegates to him to playing centerfield only in emergency situations. And while his arm is quite strong, more than enough to man right field, he projects best as a big league left fielder - that's where he could shine as an above average defensive player.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Tabata's solid overall game is among the best at the minor league level and he is one of the safest bets to reach his potential in the entire farm system. Learning the importance of keeping himself in shape and getting stronger, his body has taken on a new dimension over the last year and that bodes well for his future success. His uncanny hitting ability and developing power project him as a potential three hitter in a big league lineup someday. Often compared to Manny Ramirez for the physical resemblance, some scouts envision him as a young Gary Sheffield type. Either way he has the chance to be that kind of special run producer.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2008. Tabata will once again be one of the youngest players in his league when he starts the 2008 season in Double-A Trenton. Vowing to reach the big leagues this year after participating in big league camp last season, we're not about to doubt his ability to achieve that goal. While we have been projecting his ETA as 2009 for quite some time, expect him to get a cup of coffee with the Yankees sometime this season if he remains healthy.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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