Thursday, April 17, 2008

Trenton Report: The Untouchables

I covered yesterday's Trenton Thunder vs. Altoona Curve game for an online magazine in order to sit down with starting pitcher Daniel McCutchen. Though he pitched Tuesday night - 7 scoreless innings - and carried his team to a 4-0 victory, I was able to closely observe two of the Yankees top three prospects in action.

Pardon the pun.

During this particular game, the plate discipline that Austin Jackson and Jose Tabata exhibited was far more advanced than I had expected. Remember the twosome are 21 and 19 years old respectively. And Jackson's speed may not be elite, but there is an ease and grace to his steps that make him look even faster than he already is - which is pretty damn fast.

Tabata looked incredibly comfortable in the box, and though he wasn't facing Clayton Kershaw or Rick Porcello, his ability to take a pitch on the outside corner and mash it into rightfield is a skillset which will carry over into the big leagues. [As will the apparent clutchness Tabata's shown throughout the minor leagues.]

Two out of the three times A-Jax got aboard [2-4 with a walk] in yesterday's game, Tabata followed him up by taking the outside pitch and lacing it deep into the right field corner. Both times, Jackson scored standing up all the way from first base.

In a mere two different at-bats, both Tabata's and Jackson's strengths were highlighted. Tabata's brute strength with the stick [those doubles could become homers as his body matures] met with Jackson's on-base ability and stealth around the base paths.

In the field, there was little to be determined as the only balls Jackson fielded were either can-o-corn high flies or basehits which could not have possibly been caught. Tabata was not tested very much either, though he did show a bout of a laziness on an Altoona double triple down the line. While in pursuit of the baseball in the right field corner, Tabata was noticeably slow to recover and get the ball back into the infield. As a result, Yankees scouts cringed and a double became a triple.

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