According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, despite the fact that the Yankees believed their former prospect Jose Tabata was 19 years old when they traded him, the Pirates are starting to think that his age might have been closer to 25.
“All of the documentation he has used to obtain his visa from the U.S. government and his passport from the Venezuelan government indicate his reported age is accurate,” Huntington said in an e-mail to the Tribune-Review. “Apart from unfounded speculation, there is nothing to indicate his age any different than reported. My point is that while we have reason to doubt his reported age, it is a non-issue to us.”
Tabata was once considered to be the best prospect in the Yankees system before he was traded to the Pirates in the deal that brought them outfielder Xavier Nady and lefty reliever Damaso Marte. It was a move that was hard to stomach at the time, but Tabata had nearly quit baseball just weeks before while he was struggling and feeling pressure to perform as a Yankee prospect. The Yankees had another outfielder of similar skill and age in Austin Jackson, so they bit the bullet and traded Tabata to the Pirates.
Since then, Tabata has only helped to ease the Yankees' mind because he has made it much easier for them to deal with. First there was the whole incident where his much older wife had kidnapped a baby and passing it off as her own without his knowledge. Now there is this issue with his age which directly impacts him on the baseball field.
Now, if he is in fact 24 years old it is not the end of the world. It’s not exactly a-typical that a player come up to the majors at that age, but it does hurt his prospect status and makes it less likely that he’ll ever be able to have the power bat some predicted. Also, they don’t know if he’s 20, 24, or 26.
To me this makes the Nady/Marte trade look even better as this is further proof that Tabata is just not a trustworthy player. And if he really is 24, his ceiling has got to be a lot lower.
What’s your take on Jose Tabata, now a year and a half after they traded him?