Major League Baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals have lost one of their top prospects. According to multiple news reports, outfielder Oscar Taveras died Sunday afternoon as the result of an auto accident in his native Dominican Republic.
Contacted by MLB.com, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak expressed his condolences to the family and said the team will make a formal announcement once more details are known.
Taveras, who turned 22 in June, reached St. Louis for the first time this season and batted .239 in 80 games, finishing the post-season as a reserve outfielder. As part of a plan to better prepare to compete for a starting job in 2015, Taveras expressed interest in playing winter ball for Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican. The club wanted him to work out in Jupiter, Florida.
For the last few years the left-handed hitter was among the top five prospects in the game and was St. Louis’ number one prospect in both 2013 and 2014 according to The Cardinal Nation. Taveras was a .320 career hitter over six minor league seasons and won batting titles in two leagues, including .386 at Quad Cities of the Midwest League in 2011. He was St. Louis’ Minor League Player of the Year and the Texas League Player of the Year at Double-A Springfield in 2012.
The Dominican newspaper Listin Diario quoted a police official who confirmed that Taveras' girlfriend, 18-year-old Edilia Arvelo, also died. The AP reports Taveras was driving a red 2014 Camaro at the time of the accident.
The Cardinals issued the following press release Sunday evening.
The St. Louis Cardinals offer condolences to the family of Oscar Taveras, the 22 year old Cardinals Outfielder, who was killed earlier today in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic.
“We are all stunned and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of the youngest members of the Cardinals family,” Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. “Oscar was an amazing talent with a bright future who was taken from us well before his time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends tonight.”
“I simply can’t believe it,” said John Mozeliak, Sr. VP & GM of the St. Louis Cardinals. “I first met Oscar when he was sixteen years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived every day to the fullest.”
The team will provide additional information on funeral arrangements at a later time.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig issued the following statement Sunday evening:
"All of us throughout Major League Baseball are in mourning this evening, shocked by the heartbreaking news of the accident involving Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras and his girlfriend in the Dominican Republic. Oscar, a young member of the Baseball family, was full of promise and at the dawn of a wonderful career in our game, evident in his game-tying home run against the Giants exactly two weeks ago.
"With heavy hearts, tonight we play Game Five of the 2014 World Series in the memory of these two young people. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of both individuals, as well as to Oscar's teammates and the entire Cardinals organization."
On Monday, manager Mike Matheny released this statement:
“I was asked last night to give some words regarding the tragic death of Oscar Taveras, but I just simply couldn't.
First of all, it felt like a bad dream that could not be real, and when reality kicked in, my words didn't even seem to make sense. To say this is a horrible loss of a life ended too soon would be an understatement. To talk about the potential of his abilities seemed to be untimely. All I wanted to do was get the guys together and be with our baseball family. I know the hurt that comes along with buying into the brotherhood of a baseball team. That hurt is just as powerful as the joys that come with this life. Not to say it is even close to the depth of pain his true family is going through, but the pain itself is just as real. The ache is deep because the relationships were deep, and forged through time and trials.
To the many fans who have already reached out with condolences, and to the many more who are in mourning, thank you for taking these players in, like they are one of your own. This level of care is what sets our fans apart.
In my opinion, the word "love" is the most misused, and misunderstood word in the English language. It is not popular for men to use this word, and even less popular for athletes. But, there is not a more accurate word for how a group of men share a deep and genuine concern for each other. We loved Oscar, and he loved us. That is what a team does, that is what a family does. You will be missed, Oscar.”
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