(BaseballSTL) -- Since coming over to the United States full-time, top prospect Oscar Taveras has amassed more than 1,000 at-bats in the Cards minor league system.
1,026 to be exact. His 345 hits give him a .336 batting average. Oh, and did I mention this Taveras character is just 20 years old? Ya, that’s kind of important.
GM John Mozeliak doesn’t offer too many superlatives to the media when describing anyone usually...especially 20 something year old prospects. But when he called Taveras an “unbelievable” hitter after the season, that tells you just how excited he is about this guy.
The Dominican Republic native just finished a season in AA-Springfield in which he was named the Texas League Player of the Year. No joke. This after spending half the season at age 19.
He’s been playing center field for his entire minor league career but many scouts believe he’s ticketed for a corner outfield spot in the majors. This is where things get tricky. As an “incredible” talent, as Mozeliak put it, he’s more than ready to be in the big leagues next year.
Folks, Oscar Taveras needs to see AAA about as much as I need a root canal. It’s just not necessary.
Does that mean he’ll make the team out of spring training? No. In fact, Taveras may be ready for the big leagues, but the big leagues may not be ready for him.
What does that mean? It means the Cards likely won’t bring him up until there’s an everyday starting spot available. With Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran all under contract for 2013...that doesn’t seem to be the case. No sense in starting Taveras’ clock towards arbitration before you absolutely need him.
However, my feeling on this is simple. Beltran is clearly not capable of playing everyday at this point in his career. His knee is one awkward twist away from snapping and ending his season. He’s going to need a platoon partner as it is. And while, yes, Matt Carpenter is worthy of that job (he did it most of last year) Taveras is just a better player with a higher upside.
If you’ve read any of my stuff you’d know I’m as big of a Matt Carpenter fan as anyone. But the sooner the Cards find big league at-bats for Taveras the sooner he’ll be able to be a core contributor here in St. Louis in helping the Cards make a World Series run.
By keeping Taveras as a 4th outfielder in 2013 he could split time with Beltran in right field, get a start a week in center in place of Jon Jay, give the random day off to Matt Holliday in left and even get at-bats somewhere (likely right field) during games in American League parks when there’s a designated hitter.
So I don’t buy this concept of there not being at-bats available for Taveras next year. On the contrary, there’s plenty available. And if you are looking to upgrade your bench like Mozeliak has said he is, wouldn’t having Taveras or whomever he replaces that day be a heck of a weapon off the bench?
Don’t get cute. Keep Oscar Taveras on the team and reap the benefits.