It’s a no-brainer that Oscar Taveras will be in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform sooner rather than later. The common consensus is that Taveras will make his major league debut in 2014.
It would not surprise me, however, to see the twenty year-old outfielder make his debut during the 2013 season. If he does, it means one thing and that is a big injury to a Cardinals outfielder. I hope that is not the case though.
Taveras, in the eyes of many, is the best ballplayer coming up through the Cardinals system since some guy named Albert Pujols. In four seasons in the minor leagues, Taveras has put up some great numbers. His minor league batting average is .321. Even though he batted .386 for former Midwest League affiliate, Quad Cities, in 2011, his breakout season–by far–came in 2012 while manning the outfield in Springfield. In 2012 alone, the Cardinals and fans got to see what the prospect can do as he batted .321, hit 23 home runs, and knocked in 94 RBIs.
The question, though, is where does Taveras fit in once is his finally called up? Is it as right fielder or center fielder? Left field, currently occupied by Matt Holliday, is out of the question. As such, that leaves the other two outfield positions.
Jon Jay is the current center fielder for the Cardinals while Carlos Beltran is manning right field until the end of 2013. There is no doubt that Beltran would like to extend his time in St. Louis but common sense says Taveras is the reason why that doesn’t happen. That’s not to diss Beltran at all. In his 15 seasons, he has hit over 2,000 career hits, over 300 home runs, and batting .282–with his best season coming in 2006 while playing for the New York Mets.
Jay can play all three outfield positions. He did so in 2011 and took over centerfield virtually full-time when Colby Rasmus was traded.
It is possible that Jay moves to right field and lets Taveras play center. Or Jay stays put and Taveras takes over for Beltran.
“We’re going to get him into positions where he’s been a little more comfortable,” Matheny said. “We’ve been working in the minor-league system on purpose to try and get him exposed to center because it will make him better on the corners, but also to have that in his pocket as something that he can do.”
Asked if Taveras will see the big leagues this season, Matheny said: “Way too early to make a statement like that.”
Way too early, indeed.