Pirates Prospect Interview: Jose Tabata

Jose Tabata

Outfielder Jose Tabata came to the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 26 as part of a six player trade that sent Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the New York Yankees. Entering play on August 26 the 20-year old prospect has played in 15 games with Double-A Altoona and is hitting .377 with one home run and seven RBI. PiratesDugout.com's George Von Benko caught up with Tabata recently.

GVB-- What was your reaction when you heard you had been traded to Pittsburgh?

JT-- At first I was shocked because the Yankees are the only team I have ever been with, but once I had time to think about it I got excited because I knew that the Pirates really wanted me. When I heard that I was traded for two big leaguers it made me feel really good because that is where I want to be some day

GVB-- You struggled early this season and you also had an injury - how did you cope with that?

JT-- I was injured last year so that helped me learn how to deal with being injured but at the same time it is always frustrating not being able to help your teammates win and to be able to improve your play. I got off to a slow start this year, but that was a combination of a lot of reasons like the colder weather, the higher level of play and few other factors. I felt like in spring training that I was going to get off to a good start ,but it didn't happen - my coaches kept telling me that it's ok to struggle because you are 19 years old and you are at double-A, but I didn't want to look at it like that.

GVB-- A lot was made of some problems you had with Trenton - was that overblown?

JT-- I try not to look back too much at what happened. I was frustrated because I wasn't playing well and I'm not used to not playing well. I have always been one of the best players on the field and I didn't feel like I was playing up to the standards I had set for myself. I made a few mistakes, but my time with Trenton was good and I felt like I was really playing my game at the time I got hurt - plus, there is a lot of pressure being with the Yankees because they demand excellence. That is why they are always one of the best teams in the major leagues.

GVB-- How do you feel about your overall game at this point - hitting and defense? Any areas that you feel you have to work on and strengthen?

JT-- Hitting has always been my strength. I can hit and I am confident that I will always be able to hit whether I am in rookie ball or in the big leagues. I hit.300 every year in pro ball and that will always be my goal. As far as my power goes I feel like I am getting better at learning how to drive pitches but I like to hit balls to the gap and run - that is my game. On defense, I played right field in Trenton and now I am playing center field so I know that I can play anywhere my team needs me in the outfield"

GVB-- Do you have a time table for getting to the major leagues and if so are you on schedule and progressing well?

JT-- I just have to play my game and let the Pirates decide when I am ready - of course I would love to be there right now, but so would all of my teammates I just need to keep getting better, stay healthy and everything will fall into place from there. I have always been the youngest guy on my team so I guess that means that I am moving quickly which is good

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