Meet Your Bucs: Part Four-Outfielders

By Zane Heiple

McCutchen and Tabata Will Anchor The Bucs’ Outfield In 2011

Part Four of this five part series will focus on the outfielders.
Jose Tabata:  2011 will be his first full season with the Pittsburgh Pirates after being called up to the Major Leagues in June of 2010.  A former international signee by the New York Yankees, Tabata came to the Pirates in a trade that included current Pirates’ teammates Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, and current AAA pitcher Daniel McCutcheon in exchange for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte.  Once rated as the Yankees’ number two prospect in 2008, Jose will be a key figure to the Pirates’ success this year.  He will be featured in the leadoff spot in left field for most of the season.  After batting .299 in 2010, it will be important for him to continued hitting around the .300 mark to help with run production.  Hopefully his Spring Training numbers will be left in Florida as he batted .234 with one homerun and five RBI’s with an OBP of .306.  Clint Hurdle would also like to utilize Tabata’s speed on the base paths so that he can be in scoring position for Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen.
Andrew McCutchen:  The face of the franchise will begin his third season at the Major League level in 2011.  Cutch was the 11th overall pick of the 2005 draft by the Pirates and will be patrolling centerfield and batting third for the Buccos.  He made his debut with the Pirates on June 3, 2009 after Nate McClouth was dealt to the Atlanta Braves.  This spring, McCutchen has hit .362 with three homeruns and 11 RBI’s.  MLB Network named Andrew the best centerfielder in baseball prior to the 2011 season.  With such high praise a lot is expected of McCutchen, which is something he is not shying away from as he shows leadership on and off the field.  A career .286 hitter, Cutch will be a key part of the lineup as he hopes to bring in the first two guys in the lineup and get himself into scoring position with his speed, so that Lyle Overbay and Pedro Alvarez can collect RBI’s. 
Garrett Jones:  Drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 14th round of the 1999 draft, Garrett has become a fan favorite during his short stint with the Pirates.  Garrett signed with the Buccos prior to the 2009 season after being in the Minnesota Twins’ Minor League system for four seasons.  After being called up, he hit ten homeruns in his first month and was named N.L. Rookie of the Month for July.  On Opening Day 2010 in front of the home crowd, GI Jones hit two homeruns in his first two at-bats.  This spring GFJ has hit .214 with zero homeruns and seven RBI’s.  It was production like this throughout the 2010 season that caused the Pirates to sign Lyle Overbay in the offseason.  Because of this, Jones will be platooning the right field position with Matt Diaz in 2011, but don’t be surprised to see Garrett back at first for a few starts this season as well.
Matt Diaz:  He is new to the Pirates’ roster in 2011 as a free agent signee during the offseason.  His main role will be platooning right field with Garrett Jones.  He was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 1999 in the 17th round of the draft.  The Rays released him after the 2004 season after not being able to keep his stats at the plate to a high level.  The Kansas City Royals signed him for the 2005 season where he hit .281.  His next seasons were with the Atlanta Braves.  In 2007 he had his best season at the plate, hitting .338 in 124 games.  For his career he has hit .302 with 41 homeruns and 186 RBI’s.  Diaz batted .248 this spring with one homerun and six RBI’s.  Matt Diaz will mostly be used against left-handed pitching this season or in the occasion that Jones is playing first base.
John Bowker:  2011 will be his first full season in Pittsburgh after coming over in a trade from the San Francisco Giants with Joe Martinez for Javier Lopez in July of 2010.  Bowker will be playing the corner outfield positions and first base, but plans seem for him to mostly be used as a pinch hitter.  Originally drafted by the Giants in the third round in 2004, he made his Major League debut on April 12, 2008.  For his career, he has hit .237 with 17 homeruns and 71 RBI’s.  This spring he has hit .308 with three homeruns and seven RBI’s.
Up next in the final part of our series, we will showcase the infield position players.
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!

Zane Heiple

Zane is Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands and a weekly contributor for Armchair Report on NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, and NCAA related topics. He's also the smartest man in the world. Just ask him.

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