TCN 2014 Cardinals Prospect #1: Oscar Taveras

The main question remains not if, but when the organization's top prospect arrives in St. Louis. Today's report is FREE!

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile
(including links to full 2013 and career stats)

Home: Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

2013 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
1 OF 6/19/1992 6-2 180 L L 2008 FA

Selected 2013 stats

GCL 1.000 1.000 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1.062 1.000 2.000 3.000
Mem 0.306 0.324 173 25 53 12 5 32 9 22 5 0.353 0.341 0.462 0.803
Total 0.310   174 25 54 13 5 32 10 22 5   0.348 0.471 0.819

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (1): For the second consecutive year, Oscar Taveras is the St. Louis Cardinals' top prospect as voted by the message board community. I am not really sure what can be said that hasn't already been said about the Cardinals' reigning top prospect - even after a lost season of development mainly due to a high-ankle sprain that required a surgical procedure.

The ankle injury that had bugged Taveras since early May cut short his season at only 46 games at the Triple-A level. His slash line was .306/.341/.462 in 173 at-bats for what is considered a lost season for Taveras - and for Cardinals fans hoping for a glimpse of him in St. Louis at the end of the 2013 season.

With newly-acquired speed demon Peter Bourjos likely helming center field every day and Jon Jay as the fourth outfielder (if he isn't traded), it is hard to imagine where Taveras will fit into the Cardinals' plan for 2014. That is the case even if he is fully recovered from the high-ankle sprain before then, which is the expectation.

If the surgery slowed Taveras down, he may not have the same range as before for tracking down fly balls in the outfield. That makes it less likely for Taveras to handle center field. Right field is the position for which scouts have always projected Taveras. His strong arm, potential for above-average power in his already plus-plus bat - which is major-league ready - profiles him perfectly for the right field position.

Developmentally, Taveras is undoubtedly ready to be an impact player. The only question is his health, readiness, and how will they give at-bats to Matt Adams and Allen Craig. Adams is regarded as an absolute masher and unlike Taveras, has proven himself at the major-league level. All I have to say in closing is that spring training should be very interesting. - DTFlush234

Brian Walton (1): As we reach the final player of our 2014 top 40 countdown, there is almost no suspense. That is in contrast to last year, when Taveras passed two-time top prospect Shelby Miller to become the new unanimous top dog in the Cardinals minor league system. Despite the wealth in pitching across the system, last year Taveras reigned - even as top performers like Kolten Wong were pushed downward in the top 10.

12 months later, many of those 2013 top 10 pitchers are firmly established in the majors – Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal and Michael Wacha among them. Taveras, who had rocketed through the system until his age 20-21 season, had hit his first major speed bump as a professional. There are no long and impressive lists of awards, accomplishments and accolades earned by Taveras in 2013 to elongate this write-up.

It is now time to see what Taveras is made of. How will be bounce back from his adversity, both physically and mentally? Will he exhibit a drive and commitment to play hard, both offensively and defensively, every inning all season long?

If so, he should get back on the path to achieve his ultimate potential despite the initial appearance of limited at-bats available to him in St. Louis in 2014. Injuries and ineffectiveness from others will almost certainly create opportunities during the long season. In fact, they were there during 2013, but it was Matt Adams, not Taveras, who was ready when the time came.

It should be Oscar's turn in 2014 and I am looking forward to it.

Our 2014 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. You can also read the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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