Monday, March 25, 2013
Is role for Taveras in the Cards?
By Jason Catania
St. Louis Cardinals phenom Oscar Taveras has had a big spring, raising even more questions about how -- and how soon -- the outfielder might fit in with the club.
Taveras is hitting .296 (16-for-54) with four doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games, and while he's expected to be reassigned to minor league camp at some point, that hasn't happened yet. Still, the 20-year-old lefty hitter who has won the league batting title in each of his past two minor league seasons -- he hit .386 in the Single-A Midwest League in 2011 then followed that up with a .321 average in the Double-A Southern League -- is going to start 2013 in Triple-A. How long he'll be there, though, depends on the players ahead of him on the organization's depth chart.
St. Louis' outfield already is set, with Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran handling left, center and right field, respectively. Jay probably has the shortest leash, given that he's not quite in the same class as Holliday and Beltran, so Taveras could force his way onto the roster at some point if Jay is underperforming. Otherwise, Taveras has shown he's capable of playing both centerfield and a corner spot, so he could conceivably be called up if something were to happen on the injury front to any of the three.
For what it's worth, Beltran has been dealing with an ailing -- and lingering -- foot problem for much of the spring, so that may be worth watching to see if Taveras can get his foot in the door. (Okay, bad joke.)
ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney spoke more about Taveras' impressive camp on Tuesday's Baseball Tonight podcast.
In another young phenom, Jurickson Profar of the Texas Rangers, Jim Bowden of The GM's Office sees a similar situation to Taveras' short- and long-term future with the Cardinals:
Jim BowdenWhy Taveras should start at Triple-A
"For instance, St. Louis’ Oscar Tavares, like Profar, appears major league ready but is blocked by Carlos Beltran in right field and Matt Holliday in left. Rather than have him play part time or rot on the bench, better to option him out and let him get steady at-bats in Triple-A. Then he can be ready either for an injury to one of the aforementioned veterans or for 2014 when Beltran is expected to depart as a free agent."