Tabata Wants To Move Quickly

Tabata already has five stolen bases

Jose Tabata, one of the Yankees' top prospects, is coming off the injury circuit and making a point to maintain the organization's high regard for his abilities in an effort to begin moving a bit quicker up the minor league ladder.

Outfielder Jose Tabata's last season injury halted what was an impressive showcase from the young right-hander. He was a hit-machine, building a .367 average in the South Atlantic Conference through the first six weeks of the 2006 campaign.

A sudden injury derailed his fast start. Previously thought to be a thumb injury, Tabata claims it was his wrist that was the problem. Heading into this season, he feels that he's back to normal.

"It's feeling good, all the treatment is done," he said of last season's injury through the help of a translator. "I don't think it's going to be a problem."

In the early going, Tabata seems to be back on track. He has a .300 batting average, good for third on the team. The team leader in RBIs with nine, his bat is one of the more productive in the Tampa Yankees lineup.

He's also displaying impressive speed on the base paths, already picking up five stolen bases without being caught once.

One area of concern however is his abnormally high number of strikeouts. He's among the highest on the team. But with such a long layoff last season, that's only to be expected. Tabata credits it to a lack of plate discipline right now.

"I've been swinging at a lot of balls in the dirt," he admitted. "It's that, or just missing them and fouling them off. So pretty quickly, I'm getting behind in the count."

A good athlete with the ability to play anywhere in the outfield, Tabata has seen most of his time in right field, the best approach to utilizing his solid throwing arm. It's a shift in position for him, but one that he is adjusting to quickly.

"I feel my most comfortable in center field," he revealed. "But since I've been playing here [Tampa], I've started to play more right field. I'm feeling more and more comfortable with it."

Perhaps most impressive of Tabata's numbers is his age. At only 19-years-old, he is one of the youngest players in the Florida State League. He doesn't see his youth hindering him in any way this season though.

"I don't think about that," he said. "I just go out there to the field and play the game the way I'm supposed to play. I don't feel any added pressure."

Tabata is setting his goals high this year. With a clear desire to work hard and improve everyday, he feels that he can make it to the next level by season's end.

"I want to move quickly," he said. "I would like to play half my year here, and half my year in Trenton. It's not something that anyone has told me, it's just a personal goal for myself."

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