Oscar Taveras could figure in 2013 St. Louis Cardinals' plans

Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

The St. Louis Cardinals may have missed out on their second consecutive pennant, but fans looking forward to 2013 still have Oscar Taveras to talk about.

There are two kinds of baseball fans following losses as brutal as the one the St. Louis Cardinals suffered on Monday. One kind stays away from the TV and the internet until the World Series passes, and then gets interested in baseball again in January or so. For the other kind, who has to start gameplanning 2013 immediately to stay sane, the minor league system offers, in addition to all those pitchers, Oscar Taveras, one of the very best hitting prospects in baseball.

Last year, in his age-20 season, Taveras hit the cover off the ball in AA Springfield, turning in a .321/.380/.572 line in 477 at-bats. Taveras can run—he hit seven triples and stole 10 bases in 11 tries—he can hit without striking out as much as the average slugger, and his power, scarily enough, appears to be developing.

And if Jon Jay goes down, he'd probably be the Cardinals' starting center fielder. Scouts question whether he can stick there, but on a team that played Allen Craig there a few times last year he'll at least be able to play there, if only until he gets even bigger and stronger.

At 21 the Cardinals are in no rush to get him to the major leagues. But if he gets off to a hot start in AAA Memphis, it'll be hard to keep him away from the Cardinals' outfield mix, which—between Matt Holliday's back and Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran's legs—could be short a player at various points in the next year.

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