Taveras logs another big game on a big stage

Springfield's Oscar Taveras took home the Most Valuable Player award from the Texas League All-Star Game, held Thursday night in Tulsa.

Just-turned 20-year-old outfielder Oscar Taveras is continuing to demonstrate that he can meet any challenge presented him on a baseball field. The Springfield Cardinals star, selected as a starter for the North squad in the Texas League All-Star Game, walked away with the Most Valuable Player Award from the midsummer exhibition.

Taveras went 3-for-4 with two RBI to help lead the North All-Stars past the South 3-1 before a sellout crowd at ONEOK Field in Tulsa on Thursday night. The native of the Dominican Republic finished a triple short of the cycle.

The contest, played in 105 degree heat, favored the pitching. Taveras, batting cleanup, finished with three of the eight hits total collected by both teams. 18 pitchers appeared in total, with the eight hurlers from the North tossing a combined two-hitter.

Taveras' Springfield teammate, second baseman Kolten Wong, also started in the game. Batting second in the lineup, Wong led off the fourth inning with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Tulsa's Nolan Arenado (Colorado) delighted the home crowd when he brought Wong home via a ground-rule double.

Taveras followed with his home run, scoring Arenado ahead of him. It was the only long ball by either club on the evening. The no-doubter rocketed over the visitors' bullpen on the fly and re-entered orbit on the grass berm beyond right field. Taveras is obviously comfortable in the park as he now launched five home runs in 12 games at ONEOK Field this season.

The other four Springfield all-stars took the field during the game as well. Jermaine Curtis entered the contest midway, replacing Wong at second base. He had a walk in two at-bats. Audry Perez made a late appearance at catcher, going 0-for-1 at the plate.

Trevor Rosenthal and Keith Butler each pitched a scoreless inning. Rosenthal walked one and fanned one in the third while Butler received a hold as the result of tossing a 1-2-3 eighth inning while protecting the two-run lead.

But this night belonged to MVP Oscar.

Post-break, the sky seems his only limit.

On the season, his first in the league after jumping over A-Advanced, Taveras leads the Double-A circuit with a .323 batting average and is third with 15 home runs and 51 RBI. On his current pace, the left-handed hitter could become Springfield's first back-to-back league MVP on the heels of Matt Adams' monster 2011 season.

Taveras next opportunity to shine on a bigger stage will come in front of a national audience during the MLB Futures Game, to be held on July 8 in Kansas City.

He should be ready.

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

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