Jose Tabata, an outfield prospect in the New York Yankees organization, was signed out of Venezuela for $550,000 at the age of 16. In two Minor League seasons over 130 games with the Gulf Coast Yanks and Charleston RiverDogs, he's hit a combined .303 (144-for-475) with eight homers, 76 RBIs and 37 steals. Tabata was ranked by Baseball America as New York's second-rated prospect, behind Phil Hughes and in front of Humberto Sanchez.
Thank God the beginning of the season has been good. What's important to me is that the team is winning, not what I do individually.
Thankfully, it's going well so far. The Florida State League is a higher league (than I was in last year), and the competition is tough. It's hard to hit, but I'm working hard. I didn't expect what I've found here.
Luis Sojo is my manager, and I consider him a great friend. He lets us play calmly without pressure. He is a person who's very, very smart about baseball.
All the leagues I've played in have been great, but playing in Tampa (one of the Yankees' home bases), I have the support of a lot of people. I feel very well physically and mentally. They've told me I'll probably spend half the season here, half the season in Trenton.
I haven't spent too much time seeing Tampa -- my wife and I generally stay home when I'm not playing. We're expecting twins this winter, and my mother will come to help out. One thing I want to leave you with -- for all those kids who play baseball since they're young, keep playing.
Baseball is the road to happiness. Always thank God for all your blessings and keep studying.
Here are some emails from fans:
Hey Jose, I am from the Dominican Republic, and even though I am a Red Sox fan, I am pulling for you to do well. I have a question for you, what was the biggest thing that your countryman Bobby Abreu told this spring? Do you think that your skill set is compareble to Abreu's? And who was your favorite player, the player that you try to be when you were young? -- Norberto
JT: For me the most important thing that Abreu has taught me has been to keep my head high. Even if you go 0-for-5, you should never let yourself get down. I didn't really have a favorite player as a kid. I played both baseball and basketball and I watched games, but there was never anyone that I said, "Wow - he's my favorite."
Jose Tabata is an outfield prospect in the New York Yankees organization and a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.