Baseball America’s number three prospect is Saint Louis Cardinals‘ Oscar Taveras, and thus far he’s more than living up to that reputation. As of March 1st, he’s hitting .333 with an OPS of .933. He hit a thunderous grand slam on Thursday against the Miami Marlins that officially announced his arrival to Major League Baseball.
Though the consensus is that the next big thing will be Texas Rangers‘ middle infielder Jurickson Profar, I firmly believe–current performance aside–that Taveras will have the better career.
Regardless of that personal assessment, I would surmise that Taveras would be best suited to begin the year in AAA ball. Reason being that you don’t want a player like that toiling on the bench as a role player. You want him involved every day playing on a regular basis. That is especially true for a player on a hot streak like Taveras currently is. Its not wise to let a young player simmer on the bench because you never know how its going to effect his psyche when he does get into a game. Not to mention the fact of how his confidence could be further shattered if he’s forced to return to AAA.
It would be a better decision–barring major spring injuries–to let him continue to develop in the minors and wait for the time when he can be called up as not just a role player, but a regular player that will become a mainstay in the lineup.
Given the injury history–and age–of outfielders Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday, it isn’t so far fetched to think you will see Taveras at some point this season. But the catch with that is he needs to stay in the bigs and not be sent back down. Talent is one thing, but an often overlooked aspect of (young) major leaguers is the mental makeup of the player (see Billy Beane). There is a very fine line between coddling and nurturing and no team is better at knowing that line than the Cardinals.
Get your Taveras jersey early Saint Louis, because here comes your next Albert Pujols!