Oscar Taveras Giving St. Louis Cardinals An Early Preview Of 2014

By Thom Tsang
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

No, Oscar Taveras isn’t going to be with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013.

Not unless there’s going to be several serious injuries to the team’s outfield this year, anyway. Even then, the chances of the team rushing their prized prospect up straight from Double-A is a long shot.

The 20-year old is too young, too green, and most of all, too important to the team’s future for them to make a rash move and bring him up to a level that he might not be ready for.

That doesn’t mean Taveras isn’t playing as though he doesn’t belong against big-leaguers, though.

He’s doing just fine in his third MLB spring training camp. That is, if “just fine” is how you want to call three straight games with hits, including a three-hit outburst on Tuesday that was followed up on Thursday by a big first-inning grand slam against the Miami Marlins.

Granted, the homer did come off top pitching prospect Justin Turner, who isn’t exactly a seasoned veteran. It’s also true that the rest of the Cardinals camp are hitting the ball pretty well these early games, too.

But, if anything else, Taveras is finally fitting in. His five hits in spring is tied for second on the team, and he has received the most at-bats with 15.

For a kid won’t be in the majors this season barring extraordinary circumstances, those early opportunities given by the team aren’t a result of happenstance. The Cardinals are preparing for Taveras’ arrival in 2014 as a team, as much as they’re preparing him for the call.

That means bigger role in spring, more time in lineups with all of the core players – whatever it takes to get him to fit in, instead of being on the outside looking in. Taveras has shown no problems with that this spring in showing that he can do that, and it’s an important checkpoint in his development with the team.

Because in 2014, they’re probably going to ask the 21-year old to do it for real.

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