Taveras in spring training, 2013
|St. Louis Cardinals – No. 18|
June 19, 1992 |
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
|Bats: Left||Throws: Left|
|May 31, 2014 for the St. Louis Cardinals|
(through July 9, 2014)
|Runs batted in||4|
Oscar Francisco Taveras (born June 19, 1992) is a Canadian–Dominican professional baseball outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball (MLB). The Cardinals signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2008. Taveras made his MLB debut in 2014 after batting .321 with a .519 slugging percentage over six minor league seasons. He plays all three outfield positions while spending most of the time in center field.
For the past two seasons, Taveras has been a consensus top-five minor league prospect. He wields batting skills likened to the style of former MLB outfielder Vladimir Guerrero – with a powerful and smooth, balanced stroke, Taveras successfully hits pitches well outside of the strike zone. Also similar to Guerrero, he possesses a strong and accurate throwing arm. The outfielder is the recipient of a litany of awards and has won batting titles in three minor leagues, including hitting .386 for the Midwest League title in 2011.
On May 31, 2014, Taveras homered in his second at-bat in his major league debut for the Cardinals.
Taveras' father was an outfielder in the Milwaukee Brewers' minor league system. Taveras lived in Montreal from ages 12 to 16, therefore, he also holds Canadian citizenship. Afterwards, he returned to the Dominican Republic; had he stayed in Canada, he would have entered the draft after high school.
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals signed Taveras as an undrafted free agent on November 25, 2008 for $145,000 and assigned him to the rookie league Dominican Summer League Cardinals the next season. Although he hit just .265 with one home run (HR) and 42 runs batted in (RBI) in 65 games, Taveras earned a promotion to the Johnson City Cardinals rookie league team in 2010. The talent of whom scouts discovered in the Dominican Republic quickly actualized, as he hit .322 with eight HR and 43 RBI in 53 games. He earned another promotion to the low-A Quad Cities River Bandits in 2011, increasing his production to a .386 batting average, .444 on-base percentage (OBP) and .584 slugging percentage (SLG) with eight HR and 62 RBI in 78 games. He also earned the Midwest League batting title with the highest average in the league since 1956.
With improved play coupled with ranking as one of the league's top hitters at just age 19, Taveras began to garner notice outside the Cardinals organization. Prior to the 2012 season, Baseball America named Taveras the Cardinals' third-best prospect. He was ranked 74th in all of baseball. Taveras finished the season belting 23 HR with 94 RBI and a league-leading .321 batting average with the Cardinals' Double-A affiliate, the Springfield Cardinals. His batting achievements helped lead the team to the Texas League championship and the conferral of Baseball America's Minor League Team of the Year award. Tavares was named the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year as well as the Texas League Player of the Year.
Baseball America ranked Taveras as the Cardinals best prospect and the third-best prospect in all of baseball entering 2013. MLB.com also ranked Taveras as the Cardinals number one prospect, and the number three prospect in its Top 50 Prospects. Prior to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Taveras' agent was approached about him playing for the Canadian national baseball team. Taveras continued to play well after another promotion to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds; however, he was troubled by a high ankle sprain suffered on a hard slide into second base in a May 12 game and played in only 15 games after that—46 total. For the season, he finished with a .306 batting average with twelve doubles, five home runs and 32 RBI before undergoing season-ending ankle surgery in August.
The Cardinals added Taveras to their 40-man roster on November 20, 2013. At the beginning of the 2014 season, MLB.com ranked him as the #2 Prospect in all of MLB, second only to outfielder Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins organization. Although the team believed that his ankle was fully healed in time for the 2014 spring training, they had a difficult time getting him to fully trust the ankle in performance. A hamstring injury followed, limiting him to just six at-bats. The Cardinals optioned him to minor league camp on March 14.
On May 30, 2014, the Cardinals called up the 21-year-old Taveras to the Major League roster. At that point, he had been batting .325 with a .373 OBP and a .524 SLG at Memphis. Other totals included seven HR and 40 RBI in 49 games and 191 at-bats. Making his debut on the afternoon of Saturday, May 31, Taveras launched his first hit and home run in his second career at bat with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning against San Francisco Giants' starter Yusmeiro Petit. He became the youngest to hit a home run in his major league debut for the Cardinals since Eddie Morgan in 1936. It also started to rain, immediately forcing a 47-minute delay. The home run proved to the game-winning run as the Cardinals won 2–0.
He hit his first MLB single the next day, June 1st. When Matt Adams came off the DL June 19, the Cardinals optioned Taveras back to Memphis after batting .189 with a .225 OBP and .297 SLG in 40 PA. Despite the low rate statistics, he showed a marked ability to get contact on MLB pitching. His contact rate of 92.3% on pitches outside of the strike zone surpassed the MLB average of 65.7% for all non-pitchers. His miss rate of 2.5% on swinging strikes was significantly lower than the MLB average of 9.1%.
Exactly one month after his first call-up, June 30, the Cardinals recalled Taveras. He was batting .318 with a .502 SLG at Memphis. Taveras continued to slump in the major leagues. However, in a pinch hit plate appearance on July 22, he successfully demonstrated prodigious plate coverage. Against the Tampa Bay Rays' Kirby Yates, Yates started Taveras off with a called first strike that was 5.5 inches (140 mm) below the strike zone. Now having an automatically expanded strike zone, Taveras maintained in the at-bat, watching the seventh-pitch changeup with sudden fade dart one foot beneath the strike zone. The next pitch was a 94.5 miles per hour (152.1 km/h) fastball with about 6 inches (150 mm) of horizontal movement that he stroked for a line-drive single up the middle.
Regarded as a left-handed hitting version of Vladimir Guerrero, one of Taveras' prized skills is an ability that few possess to square the bat on – and effectively hit – pitches that are out of the strike zone, much as the case was with Guerrero. Because of his bat speed and the wide range of pitch locations of which he can hit, Taveras successfully unravels what are termed as "pitcher's pitches," which helps contribute to his high batting average. An aggressive hitter, Taveras maintains control with his smooth swing. With a wide batting stance and slight leg kick that "allows him to maintain both incredible balance and timing," he shifts his weight on his right (back) leg "before connecting with the ball with an explosive, quick swing." His combination of strong, quick hands and excellent hand-eye coordination allow him to assert considerable bat control to make constant, square contact with the incoming pitch. With an ability to drive the ball to all fields, his power ceiling is high, projected with 25 to 30 home runs in his peak. His preparation has also received high marks. Through 2013, Taveras' career minor league batting average was .320 with 45 home runs and 275 RBIs in 374 games.
Although Taveras' defensive skills are not as prodigious as his hitting abilities, he runs routes well and has solid instincts. Earlier in his professional career, he gained a reputation for concentrating too heavily on hitting at the expense of his fielding. However, Taveras worked to increased his abilities in the outfield. With a strong throwing arm, his defensive skills project him to be corner outfielder, particularly right field. However, the Cardinals believe that Taveras shows the range and skill to be an effective center fielder, at least for the near future, so he has been taking an apprenticeship to learn the position.
|Award/honor||# of times||Dates (Ranking or event)||Refs|
|Major League Baseball All-Star Futures Game||2||2012, 2013|||
|Minor leagues All-Star||3||2010 (Appalachian League), 2012 midseason and postseason (Texas League)|||
|Minor leagues All-Star game MVP||1||2012 midseason (Texas League)|||
|Baseball America's Top 100 minor league prospects||3||pre-2012 (#74), pre-2013 (#2), pre-2014 (#3)|||
|MLB.com's Top 50 minor league prospects||2||pre-2013 (#3), pre-2014 (#2)|||
|Baseball Prospectus' Top minor league prospects||3||pre-2012 (#23), pre-2013 (#3), pre-2014 (#3)|||
|Baseball America's Cardinals' top prospect||1||pre-2013|||
|Cardinals organization Player of the Year||1||2012|||
|Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year||1||2012|||
|Cardinals organization Player of the Month||3||July 2011, April 2012, June 2012|||
|Texas League Player of the Year||1||2012|||
|Texas League top prospects||1||2012 (#2)|||
|Texas League "Most Exciting Player"||1||2012|||
|Texas League "Best Batting Prospect"||1||2012|||
|Midwest League Player of the Week||2||July 11–17, 2011 and August 22–28, 2011|||
|Baseball America Minor league All-Star||1||2012|||
|Topps Texas League Player of the Year||1||2012|||
|Topps Double-A All-Star||1||2012|||
|The Cardinal Nation/Scout.com Top Prospect||4||2011 (#11), 2012 (#3), 2013 (#1), 2014 (#1)|||
- Elliot, Bob (July 8, 2012). "Top prospect has Canadian passport to WBC". Toronto Sun.
- "Oscar Taveras profile". Stlcardinals.scout.com. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
- Baldwin, Michael (April 13, 2013). "St. Louis Cardinals star prospect Oscar Taveras tearing it up in Triple-A". www.newsok.com.
- "Oscar Taveras Minor League statistics and history". www.baseball-reference.com. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
- Goold, Derrick (November 22, 2011). "Baseball America St. Louis Cardinals top 2012 prospects". Baseballamerica.com. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
- "2012 Top 100 Prospects". Baseball America. February 21, 2012. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
- Cardinals Press Release (November 30, 2012). "Taveras and Maness win Cardinals Minor League honors". MLB.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Wild, Danny (August 28, 2012). "Taveras, Loux earn Texas' top honors". Milb.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Goold, Derrick (January 16, 2013). "Baseball America 2013 Cardinals top prospects". Baseballamerica.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Staff report (February 19, 2013). "2013 Top 100 Prospects". Baseball America. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- Langosch, Jenifer (November 30, 2012). "Cards recognize Minor League Players of Year". stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com. Retrieved December 1, 2012.
- "Top 50 Prospects". MLB Network. January 29, 2013.
- Moore, Dan (February 15, 2013). "Team Canada wants Oscar Taveras (on a technicality)". Viva El Birdos. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
- Langosch, Jenifer (August 14, 2013). "Top prospect Taveras to have season-ending surgery". MLB.com via Cardinals official team website. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- MLB Press Release (November 20, 2013). "Cardinals add three to 40-man roster". MLB.com. Retrieved November 20, 2013.
- Langosch, Jenifer (March 14, 2014). "Matheny challenges Taveras to keep pushing". MLB.com. Retrieved March 23, 2014.
- Halsted, Alex (May 30, 2014). "Cardinals calling up top prospect Taveras: Outfielder batting .325 at Triple-A; Adams goes on DL with tight calf". MLB.com.
- fourstick (May 30, 2014). "All the Oscar Taveras news that's fit to print". Viva El Birdos. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- Halsted, Alex (May 31, 2014). "Taveras announces arrival, impacts Cards' win". MLB.com. Retrieved May 31, 2014.
- Solzman, Daniel (May 31, 2014). "St. Louis Cardinals promote Oscar Taveras, place Matt Adams on the DL". Redbird Rants. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- Snyder, Matt (June 13, 2014). "Cardinals activate Matt Adams, send Oscar Taveras to minors". CBSSports.com. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
- Humphrey, Ben (June 12, 2014). "The St. Louis Cardinals should demote Oscar Taveras". Viva El Birdos. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
- Goold, Derrick (June 30, 2014). "Cardinals bring back Taveras". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
- Schwarz, Joe (July 23, 2014). "The ninth-inning at bat from Oscar warrants numerous starts in a row". Viva El Birdos. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
- Callis, Jim (November 5, 2013). "Cardinals' Oscar Taveras will make bigger 2014 impact than Tigers' Nick Castellanos". MLB.com. Retrieved December 6, 2013.
- Vadeboncoeur, Joshua (September 19, 2013). "Cardinals Oscar Taveras set to be the next big thing in baseball". Baseball News Source. Retrieved October 27, 2013.
- "Oscar Taveras profile". Scout.com. Retrieved June 1, 2014.
- "2013 Memphis Redbirds Media Guide". www.milb.com. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)