After much clamoring by fans but much tempering by Cardinals management, St. Louis will call up top prospect Oscar Taveras, on Saturday, BA correspondent Derrick Goold reported.
The Taveras promotion isn’t born of panic or underproduction from Cardinals outfielders. Instead it’s due to an injury (strained calf) to first baseman Matt Adams, which will necessitate a shift by Allen Craig from right field to first base.
In fact, general manager John Mozeliak had promoted Randal Grichuk from Memphis earlier Friday rather than Taveras, explaining Grichuk’s promotion over Taveras had more to do with Grichuk’s ability to play center field on a regular basis.
When St. Louis subsequently discovered Adams would be out for more than a week, Mozeliak said he decided to promote both. Mozeliak told Goold the team “couldn’t play short for five games.”
The 21-year-old Taveras hit .325/.373/.524 with seven homers and a team-best 40 RBIs in 49 games at Triple-A Memphis. He’s been especially good in the past 10 games, hitting .462 with five extra-base hits and nine RBIs. He has hit righthanders and lefties at almost an equal clip, showing his usual knack for barreling the ball. What makes Taveras a particularly promising prospect is his production versus minor league righties the past three seasons. In that time he’s hit .332/.385/.584 with 28 homers in 628 plate appearances and just 10 percent strikeouts.
The Cardinals have not been shy about touting Taveras’ talent. Mozeliak has called him the best hitting prospect the club has produced since Albert Pujols. Taveras has a lightning-quick bat, honed in part by unusual tactics such as swinging at a tire lashed to a fence or at bottle caps. He’s a bad-ball hitter who doesn’t strike out much (25 in 191 at-bats this season) and has present strength with the promise of more power.
What To Expect
Taveras will play. While Grichuk’s callup is more of, “We’ll see how it plays out . . . You’re going to see Oscar in the lineup,” according to Mozeliak.
Among the major categories, Taveras lacks only stolen-base acuity. Expect him to hit for average and power. His ability to get on base will be largely dictated by his average, because he doesn’t walk much.
To expect Taveras, or any prospect, to dominate or translate Triple-A success immediately to the majors is unrealistic. George Springer, for example, hit .182/.262/.218 in his first 61 plate appearances before his white-hot surge. However, BA strongly recommends you pick up Taveras if he’s available in your fantasy league. He’s a prime keeper target and will be a Roto contributor this season as a fifth outfielder or utility player, at worst.