Results tagged ‘ Jose Tabata ’

Putting money where his arms are

I love it when someone is willing to stand behind his team. I’ll get to exactly what I mean in a minute.

As I’ve discussed the last couple of days, the Arizona Fall League is teaming up with the Joe Niekro Foundation for a great
fundraiser/awareness-raiser this week. Any pitcher from one of the
seven organizations Joe Niekro pitched for who strikes out a batter
this week helps raise money for aneurysm awareness and research. Four
sponsors have agreed to donate $36 (Niekro’s number during his playing
days) per strikeout. That’s $144 per K.

But now there’s more to make this interesting. Oneri Fleita is the VP of Player Personnel for the Chicago Cubs, one of the seven teams Niekro played for. When he heard about what was going on in the AFL involving his pitchers, he wanted to get involved. So he’s standing behind them and putting his money where his arms are. Should the Cubs pitchers strike out the most batters this week, he will make a donation to the Joe Niekro Foundation in his pitchers’ names.

I’m hoping the other six teams involved in this great effort will see how Fleita has stepped up and will follow suit. It would make for an exciting contest — as well as raise more money and awareness for the Foundation if every team got involved in this way. I’ll be sure to update here if and when others make the same fantastic pledge Fleita has made.

With that in mind, let’s see what the totals are after Day 2 of Aneurysm Awareness Week:

Andrew Oliver, Tigers (Javelinas) — 4 K
Daniel Meszaros, Astros (Saguaros) — 2 K
Day Total: 6 K x $144per K = $864
Grand Total: 17 K = $2448

OK, Tuesday was a little light, but there weren’t that many pitchers from those organizations going. Today, the Padres’ Steve Garrison gets the start for the Saguaros, as does the Cubs’ Andrew Cashner for the Solar Sox (a good chance for Fleita’s Flock to jump into the lead). And it sometimes works that the relievers coming in back of the starters are from the same organizations, so here’s hoping for a huge Wednesday. Here are the organizational standings through two days:

Tigers — 7 K
Twins — 5 K
Astros — 3 K
Cubs — 1 K
Yankees — 1 K

Some quick notes and Stars of the Day. Royals’ first round pick Aaron Crow, discussed in this brilliant article (OK, it was written by me) not long ago, makes his AFL debut today for the Rafters. As for stars, going to make them brief:

Hitter: Jose Tabata, OF, Pirates (Scorpions) — Hitting leadoff for Scottsdale, Tabata went 3-for-6 with a double, a homer and six RBIs. That’s no easy feat, driving in a half-dozen from the leadoff spot. His home run came in the second inning off of Nick Hill, a three-run shot with two outs to highlight a four-run second. Tabata, at age 21, seems to be prepping for the start of his big-league career. He’s hitting .326 and slugging .535 so far this fall and by all accounts simply punishing the baseball on a regular basis.

Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Nationals (Desert Dogs) — As much as I wanted to give it to Oliver for racking up 4 K’s for the Niekro Foundation, it’s hard to look past what Strasburg did in this bounce-back effort. The No. 1 overall pick went four innings without giving up a hit, allowing just a single base knock in the fifth before leaving the game. In 4 1/3 IP, he gave up just the one hit and one run, while walking two and striking out five. No Pitch FX from that game, so I’m not sure what he was throwing, but it seemed to be working for him on Tuesday.

Day 4: Bradenton

I’m in Pirate City folks. And yet, the guy I’m going to focus on in a bit is a Twin. Go figure.

First, a couple of tidbits, one on-the-field related and one an off-the-field bizarre small world story I meant to share with you yesterday.

I’m beginning to fear that prospects — especially in the Pirates organization — are going to start avoiding me. I saw — and wrote about — Jose Tabata here yesterday. Then I find out when I arrive in Bradenton that Tabata, along with Tom Gorzelanny, had been sent to the Minor League side. Gorzo will be in the Indianapolis rotation and it’s looking like Tabata will start with Double-A Altoona.

Then, to add to it, I see the Pirates again today. Neil Walker makes a few nice plays at third, walks and scores a run. Then, after the game, he’s optioned to Triple-A as well. To be fair, both were eventually going to be sent down. Turns out that Walker’s was more a procedural move than anything else. If a player is on the 40-man roster and is still in big-league camp after March 20, if he gets hurt, he has to be put on the big-league disabled list. That might not sound like much, but that counts against his service time clock and he’d get a Major League salary. Since Walker was not going to make the club anyway, it’s not that big of a deal. Walker, as always, handled it with grace and said he understood the situation. Sounds like it was well communicated to him and the Pirates, for their part, would’ve loved to keep him around to let him learn in this atmosphere for a while longer. But rules are rules.

OK, on to our Prospect Impression:

luke_hughes.JPGI first met Twins prospect Luke Hughes at the 2008 Futures Game. The Aussie was on the World Team and we took him and New Zealander (Kiwi) Scott Campbell of the Blue Jays on a double-decker bus tour of New York City. A good time was had by all. You can watch the video feature we did by going here. The link is on the bottom right, where it says “Hughes, Campbell tour NYC.”

Now, Hughes isn’t just a good personality. He split the year between Double- and Triple-A in 2008, finishing with a .309 average and .524 slugging percentage. The 24-year-old then went to Venezuela and handled himself well, hitting .298 in 32 games. He’s on the 40-man roster and participated in the World Baseball Classic, where he went 3-for-12 with a homer and three RBIs in Australia’s three games.

He’s still in big-league camp and really opening some more eyes. He had two more hits today against hte Pirates to raise his average to .429 (6-for-14). He’s played second, third and the outfield over the past year. He’ll either settle into one position (an offensive-minded 2B perhaps?) or he can be a superutility guy who can really rake. Whatever the case, he’s bound for Triple-A eventually. He told me he was hoping he could stick around in big-league camp for another week, at least, maybe show more people what he can do. The bigger impression you can make up here, after all, the more likely the whole “phone call away” thing comes true.

I’ve got an “off day” tomorrow, but I’ll try to do a draft update of some sort just to mix it up.

Day 3: Tampa

Sorry I’m a little later with the entry today, but there was night baseball at George M. Steinbrenner Field between the Yankees and Pirates. Filling in for the esteemed Jen Langosch on the Pirates beat (I’ll see them tomorrow and Friday to boot. Go Buccos!), I wrote a story about Xavier Nady’s reunion with his old team on the Major League side of things. But lets move on to what we’re all here for, right? Today’s Prospect Impression.

I really wanted to be able to write about Virgil Vasquez and his quest to be a serious contender for the No. 5 starter spot. While one start does not a competition end, he can’t really be the focus here after giving up six runs on seven hits over 2 1/3 IP. I saw VV pitch in the 2006 Arizona Fall League championship game and he’s always been a good dude to talk to, so here’s hoping he gets back on the horse — assuming he’s given the chance to — and shows the club how he can bounce back from a bad outing.

Since I was writing about Nady, though, I thought it only fitting to write about the guy here fortabata_curve.JPG the Pirates who came to Pittsburgh on the other end of that deal. I’m talking, of course, about Jose Tabata. The young outfielder’s had a real nice spring, hitting .391 through 23 at-bats. It’s a big reason why he’s still in big-league camp and made this trip. He didn’t seem fazed by  coming back to Yankee-land, though things didn’t go so well for him here, particularly at the end. Using his ever-improving English — he was apologetic at the end, but I always make a point of giving kudos to a guy for trying (I couldn’t conduct an interview in another language, could you?) — he talked about how happy he was to be a part of the Pirates organization and how he felt like it was a family. He also spoke of how he idolized Roberto Clemente, seeing a video of him when he was a kid (not that he’s so old now, mind you). He’s even got a tattoo of Clemente’s picture more or less over his heart. Only seems fitting he should become the Pirates’ right-fielder in the future, a cast-off of sorts from another team (the Pirates got Clemente, you may remember, from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft).

Anyway, as for tonight’s performance, Tabata showed a bit of everything. He singled off of C.C. Sabathia in his first at-bat, got balked to second, stole third and scored to make it (briefly) a close 2-1 game. He made a real nice catch up against the right-field wall to snare a Johnny Damon drive in the third. He picked up another hit against Alfredo Aceves in the seventh. He went 2-for-4 overall, making him 11-for-27 this spring, a .407 average for those of you scoring at home. I think Tabata was targeted for Double-A at the start of this spring. It wouldn’t shock me after this to see him go to Triple-A Indianapolis to play in the same outfield as Andrew McCutchen to begin the 2009 regular season. 

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