No one doubts Cardinals ouftielder Oscar Taveras' ability to square up a baseball. He hit .386 as a teenager in the Midwest League last year–the best average the MWL had seen in over 50 years, while managers and scouts talked about his ability to spray line drives all over the field.
Taveras is still hitting plenty of hard line drives, but he's added some surprising power to go with the base hits. On Tuesday night Taveras hit his seventh home run of the season for Double A Springfield–only one short of his career high. In his last seven games Taveras is hitting .461 with four home runs and a 1.000 slugging percentage.
It's been quite a first month of the season for Taveras. He has shown that he can handle skipping a level (he jumped to Double-A Springfield straight from the Midwest League). After showing improved defense in spring training he's now playing primarily center field after spending most of last year in an outfield corner. His .694 slugging percentage leads all Double-A hitters. And he's doing it all as one of the youngest players in Double-A (he was the second-youngest player in the Texas League on Opening Day).
Scouts don't believe that Taveras will be able to stick in center field long term, but he does have enough athleticism to be a very proficient corner outfielder if he shows sufficient dedication to working on his all-around game. Much like Ted Williams many years ago, the biggest criticism of Taveras up to now is that he's always thinking about hitting, even when he's in the field or on the bases.
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