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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Baby Birds: Oscar Taveras is a high prized hitting prospect

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English: Hammons Field in Springfield, MO. Hom...
St. Louis Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras has been wowing the crowds at Hammons Field in Springfield, Missouri all season. - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One of the most underrated prospects in minor league baseball is St. Louis Cardinals prospect outfielder Oscar Taveras.  

Taveras is making quite a splash with AA Springfield this year. Taveras, who just turned 20, is playing far beyond his minimal experience.

Oscar Taveras signed with the Cardinals at the age of 17 as an international signee out of the Dominican Republic and has shot through the Cardinals farm system since. In 2011 Taveras played for the Quad Cities River Bandits, which is the Cardinals "low" A affilliate. The next step should have been "high" A Palm Beach, but Cardinal officials decided to push a little and assigned him to AA Springfield for 2012.

Many scouts say the hardest jump in the minor leagues is from A to AA. If that is true, and Taveras was making a triple jump, he should have been in for a bumpy ride. However, he has handled AA quite well. He is hitting .323, which leads the Texas League. Taveras has 15 home runs which is third in the Texas League.

Scouts rave about his max-effort swing and great hand eye coordination. ESPN analyst Keith Law has Taveras ranked #53 prospect in all of minor leagues and the Cardinals #3 prospect behind Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez.

Law is very high on Taveras both at the plate and in the field.
"He can end up off balance from the force of the swing, and max-effort swings like this are rare in the big leagues; however, hand-eye coordination like Taveras' is pretty rare, and the fact that he makes so much contact, most of it hard, is a huge positive. He's a potential middle-of-the-order bat with some defensive value in right."
Oscar Taveras was selected to the Texas League All-Star game and did not disappoint. He was named the MVP of the game going 3-4 with a home run and two RBI's.

For the future, I see Taveras making his major league debut sometime in 2013, but it would not surprise me if it was not until 2014. Remember, he just turned 20 years old and the Cardinals have a surplus of outfielders. He will not be called up to sit on the bench. Even though Cards fans might have to wait a few years to see him on the big-league field, if my predictions hold true, it'll be well worth the wait.

As the Cardinals top hitting prospect, the sky's the limit for Taveras.

For more on the Baby Birds and the Cardinals minor leagues, you can follow John Nagel on Twitter, @StlBabyBirds.  Or if you have a question you can send him an e-mail at john.nagel@stlsportsminute.com

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