In 2009 Jose Pirela batted .295 with 29 extra base hits, earning himself a promotion to High-A ball. He spent this spring working on his defensive game at a position that is out his comfort zone.
"This season has been really hard on me," Pirela said with the help of a translator. "Shortstop is not my favorite position so I have been working really hard to make that adjustment. If I am going to be a big league shortstop, I need to continue to work very hard on that."
Through 60 games Pirela is batting a dismal .226, however, there are bright spots to his performance. In his past 10 games he is hitting .317 and just saw his eleven-game hitting streak snapped on Friday night. The Venezuelan native has ripped six extra-base hits, including three of his eight triples and his lone homerun of the year during that span.
Pirela attributes his recent offensive production to a change ha has made in the box.
"I have been working on the way I set my feet at the plate," he explained. "Before I had my front foot open, but now I am closing my stance a little bit to keep myself more balanced and take the ball back up the middle more."
Although working extremely hard on his defensive play during Spring Training, Pirela does not believe that is a reason for his lack of offensive production at the plate.
"I don't think that concentrating on my defense affected my hitting at the start of the season," he explained. "I just didn't have everything clicking yet."
The top attribute for the 20-year-old prospect, he believes, is his speed. Pirela has swiped nine bags this season, totaling 37 over his three plus year career.
"Speed, of course, is my best [tool]," Pirela said. "Hitting and batting is what comes next and the defense comes after those."
While continuing to improve himself as a player, Pirela still has but one goal - he wants to bring home another Florida State League Championship to the Yankees organization.
"The team just needs to play unified, work really hard and be proactive. I think if we do, we'll be able to get back to the championship," he explained. "I am going to continue to work hard to become a better player. All I want to do is keep moving forward, and win."
Pirela Starting To Surge
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