Shortstop Jose Pirela
hit .273 with four home runs and 15 stolen bases for DSL Yankees1 last year as a 17-year old, and even almost drew as many walks  as strikeouts , prompting some insiders to believe his swing was reminiscent to that of current top prospect Jose Tabata.
As solid as his numbers were in the Dominican Republic, however, he didn't seem to come out of his proverbial shell in short stints in the United States during Instructional League camps until this past spring at the Yankees minor league complex when he was one of the more impressive players in Spring Training.
"I felt like I did a better job than last year," Pirela said through the help of Manny Barreda translating. "Defensively I did a lot of things better and offensively I felt a lot more comfortable."
After committing 29 errors in 55 games at shortstop last season, a big reason for his increased comfort level so far in 2008 has been the move to second base, a position he has taken to quite quickly.
"I did feel a lot more comfortable at second base in Spring Training," he admitted. "I was a little more calm over there. I don't have as much to think about over there as I did at shortstop."
Using the past tense, however, the seemingly long-term plan to move him to second base permanently may be put on hold for the foreseeable future as shortstop Jose Mojica - who had been penciled in as this year's probable starting shortstop for the Gulf Coast League Yankees - tore his right ACL and appears lost for the season, and thus leaving a hole at shortstop for now.
"Yeah that's the plan," Pirela said of playing more shortstop in Extended Spring Training, "but it's no problem for me. For me there's not too much of a difference since I'm in the middle infield either way."
Finding a groove at the plate right now and feeling more comfortable in the field as he prepares for his second professional season, Pirela just wants to keep the momentum he has built up in the early part of 2008 throughout the remainder of his time in Extended Spring Training.
"On defense I'm working on my movements, going from right to left," he said. "Hitting-wise I'm always working on my swing.
"I'm happy with where my swing is right now. I'm just looking to work on my entire game and prepare myself well for when the season starts."
Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine, including our special Yankees Prospects Guide, included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription. Time is running out to get the 2008 Yankees Prospects Guide - only a few copies remain!
|Become an annual subscriber today!|
TAMPA, FL - Despite a solid professional debut season in the Dominican Summer League last year and proving to be one of the more dynamic hitters in Spring Training this year, 18-year old middle infielder Jose Pirela is just now starting to find his comfort zone, and he's doing it in Extended Spring Training.
Jose Pirela, currently in Extended Spring Training,is getting ready to make his United States debut