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St. Louis Cardinals star prospect Oscar Taveras tearing it up in Triple A

OSCAR TAVERAS — The St. Louis Cardinals star prospect is already being compared to Vladimir Guerrero, another free-swinging outfielder. But teammates and coaches say Taveras is more than that and they expect him in the majors very soon.
by Michael Baldwin Published: April 13, 2013
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photo - Oscar Taveras of Memphis during the  Oklahoma City RedHawks home opener against the Memphis Redbirds at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 12, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oscar Taveras of Memphis during the Oklahoma City RedHawks home opener against the Memphis Redbirds at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Friday, April 12, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Memphis manager Pop Warner said comparisons to Guerrero or any other former Major League All-Star is unfair to a 20-year-old kid who has ultra talent but isn't that far removed from being a teenager.

“You're talking about comparing him to potentially future Hall of Fame guys. That's unfair,” Warner said. “Seeing him in spring training he competes hard. He puts the bat on the ball consistently, which gives him a high ceiling. We're just going to let him go play.”

Teammates said Taveras has handled the hype extremely well.

“He's so consistent and has a great work ethic,” Wong said. “He could easily have a big head because everyone tells him how great he is. He works hard every single day and doesn't let all that all other stuff go to his head which would be pretty easy to do.”

The Cardinals signed Taveras at age 16 to a $145,000 bonus. Taveras quickly proved it was a big-time bargain in a day and age high first round draft picks receive $4 to $5 million signing bonuses.

In some organizations Taveras might already be in the majors similar to Bryce Harper with the Washington Nationals or Mike Trout with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Cardinals gave Taveras a long look in spring training. He compiled a team high 76 at bats, hitting .289 with two homers and 10 RBIs.

St. Louis, though, has a veteran outfield. Jon Jay is a solid center fielder flanked by All-Stars Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran.

Since this is the final year of Beltran's contract, Taveras figures to start next season at Busch Stadium. But Taveras is so talented he might force the Cardinals to promote him at some point the next few months. He would be an automatic call-up if Jay, Holliday or Beltran suffered an injury.

For now, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak prefers Taveras play every day in Triple-A and learn all three outfield positions.

Speaking through teammate Jermaine Curtis, Taveras said his focus is to play hard and not be concerned when he might reach the majors.

“He just goes out and plays his game and doesn't feel he has any pressure,” Curtis said, translating Taveras' Spanish. “He tries to leave that to the side and whatever happens is in God's hands.”

Some predict Taveras will adjust quickly in the majors where pitchers consistently are around the strike zone, pitches Taveras routinely squares up.

“Playing in the big leagues is a different animal but he's definitely special,” Garcia said. “From what I've seen I don't see any reason why he won't be ready when he gets his chance.”

by Michael Baldwin
Redhawks, Barons, MLB, NFL Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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