The Cardinal Nation April Player of Month

19-year-old Springfield outfielder Oscar Taveras is our choice as the top position player across the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system last month.

Whereas The Cardinal Nation Pitcher of the Month for April, Seth Maness, is a 2011 draftee who has not yet made an appearance on our St. Louis Cardinals prospect list, our top player last month is well-known to many baseball observers, even if not to the FOX Sports Midwest production crew this spring.

Oscar Taveras, still just 19 years of age, came into this season as our top-ranked position player in the Cardinals system and number three overall. The organization issued the outfielder a challenge as spring training began to focus on his baserunning and defense as much as his impressive hitting.

Having passed that test in Florida during March, the Dominican Republic native was challenged again – with a two-level jump to Double-A Springfield to begin the regular season.

The 2011 Midwest League batting champion didn't miss a beat when facing Double-A pitching for the first time in April. Taveras led the Cardinals system with a .340 batting average, RBI with 21 (in 23 games) and tied for tops with six home runs. Those homers, along with nine doubles and two triples, translate to an organization-best slugging mark of .670.

The Texas League is known as a hitters' league, yet Taveras is among the circuit's leaders in most offensive categories. He is tied for second in the league in home runs, second in slugging, tied for third in doubles and is fourth in both batting average and OPS.

Perhaps the only downside in Taveras' April was the fact he drew just four walks in 99 plate appearances. On the positive side, three of the free passes were drawn in the final two games of the month.

That may be the start of an ongoing trend. After all, if the left-handed hitter continues to perform at his current rate, Texas League pitchers will soon be intentionally walking him frequently. And who could blame them if they do?

Congratulations to Oscar Taveras, The Cardinal Nation Player of the Month for April. Taveras was also named the Cardinals organization's April Player of the Month. (He previously won both awards last July while with Quad Cities.)

Honorable mentions

Matt Adams played in only 20 games due to injury, but his past pattern of hitting both for average and power continues at Triple-A. The first baseman's 26 hits are second-most, .325 average is fourth while his four home runs and SLG of .538 are both third-best in the system.

I expected well-traveled second baseman/outfielder Eugenio Velez to ride the pines in Memphis and surely did not expect to be mentioning him here. Turns out the veteran has seen regular action all over the diamond because he has produced. In 24 games, the switch-hitter batted .329 and most surprisingly, slugged .500. Those were second and fifth in the organization, respectively.

Kyle Conley has played in just 14 games with Palm Beach and Springfield due to injury. Still, his four home runs alone are worthy of mention and remind us of Conley's potential – if he can stay off the disabled list.

Springfield second baseman Kolten Wong launched into 2012 quickly, but during a rough 7-for-33 road trip just concluded, his average dipped below .300. Wong's .382 OBP is still fourth-best in the system, however.

Speaking of getting on base, that is what outfielder Mike O'Neill has been doing for Palm Beach. While his .311 batting average is solid, cracking the top five in the system, his .394 OBP leads all Cardinals minor leaguers. That is thanks to 11 walks drawn in 95 plate appearances.

Quad Cities catcher Juan Castillo batted .328 and slugged .508 during April, third and fourth-most in the system, respectively.

River Bandits infielder Colin Walsh has swung a big bat in April. After just eight home runs in his first 127 minor league games, the switch-hitter launched six long balls this past month alone. That tied him with Taveras for the system lead.

In a non-Taveras month, Walsh's showing may have been good enough to win. His 15 RBI was third-most, while his .386 OBP and .640 SLG were both second-best in the system. His OPS tops the Midwest League and his home run count is tied for second in the Class-A league through April.

Previous winners: Click on the highlighted links to be taken to earlier articles about the monthly selections by both The Cardinal Nation and the Cardinals organization.

Player of Month   Pitcher of Month  
2012 The Cardinal Nation Cards organization The Cardinal Nation Cards organization
April  Oscar Taveras Oscar Taveras Seth Maness Seth Maness

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Brian Walton can be reached via email at Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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