Tabata turning it around at Indy

On July 24th, Indianapolis broadcaster Will Flemming said the following about outfielder Jose Tabata:

“Not only has he not been not sharp offensively, but his effort on defense at times has been totally appalling. Tabata has cost the Indians games and runs with just a complete lack of effort, getting after baseballs and with throws.”

Since then, Tabata has been raking at the Triple-A level. In nine games from July 25 to August 4, he’s hit .455 (15 for 33) with seven runs batted in. He was 4 for 6 with four RBI on Thursday night. On Saturday, he went 3 for 6 with two RBI.

In 28 games for the Indians this season, Tabata is hitting .324 (35 for 108) with five doubles, 13 RBI, and four stolen bases. His batting average was hovering in the mid-.200’s after his demotion, but it’s drastically climbed over the last week. He’s hitting .342 vs. LHP, and .297 vs. RHP.

He was sent to Triple-A on July 3rd. At the MLB level this year, he hit just .230 in 72 games. Tabata, who signed a long-term deal in August of 2011, will make $1 million next season. Assuming he’s 23 (or is he older?), Tabata is an important piece of the organization.

Even with success at Indy, he may not be granted a promotion for a while. There could still be question about his focus and effort; there’s only so much you can tell from a box score. The stats will show how he’s performed at the plate, but there are no signs of his hustle, defense, etc. The Pirates outfield seems pretty set right now. Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, and Travis Snider seem to have the starting roles locked up; Alex Presley is the bench option. Garrett Jones can also play a corner outfield position. Josh Harrison has played a few games in right field.

If he comes back to Pittsburgh this season, there’s a decent chance it will be in September when the rosters expand. There’s really no spot for him right now, unless someone goes down with injury. If they do consider promoting him, hopefully he’ll be completely out of the funk he was in before his demotion. A spot may be open for him on September 1st if he can keep tearing it up at Indy.

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