The Cardinals announced that Oscar Taveras , their top prospect and number 3 overall on my rankings is headed to the Major Leagues. In a corresponding roster move, the Cardinals placed first baseman Matt Adams on the 15-day disabled list with a strained calf.
While Taveras does not play first base to cover for Adams while he is out, they can slide outfielder Allen Craig to first base, and put Taveras in the outfield, where he has played his entire professional career.
The Cardinals signed the 21-year-old back in 2008 for $145,000 from the Dominican Republic. That $145,000 seems like it was a good investment, as Taveras has hit .321/.377/.519 in 1807 career minor league plate appearances. He was only able to play in 47 games last season due to ankle surgery, which may have forced him to wait another season before being called up to the majors.
This season, in 49 games, Taveras is hitting .325/.373/.524 with 7 home runs and 40 RBI. He has excellent plate discipline, posting a strikeout percentage of a very low 12 percent. While his walk rate (6.7%) isn't great, Taveras makes up for that by being able to hit any pitch, even if it is outside the strike zone. He is often compared to Vladimir Guerrero, whom did the same.
While his defense is not as keen as his hitting abilities, Taveras runs routes well and is considered to have solid instincts. Early in his minor league career, Taveras gained a reputation for working very hard at his hitting at the expense of his fielding. He has improved over the seasons, and has a good arm. The Cardinals believe that Taveras has the range and skill to play center field, while many think he should stick to the corner outfield slots.
Taveras has a number of awards and accolades during his minor league career. He's appeared in the MLB Futures Game twice, is a three-time minor league All Star, and won the 2012 Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year. And now, he's moved to the major leagues, batting sixth and playing right field against the San Francisco Giants this afternoon in St. Louis.