The Oscar Taveras effect

He’s been described as a phenom. High-ranking officials in the Cardinals’ organization often refer to this man as the best-hitting prospect they’ve had since a guy named Albert Pujols. The Cardinals’ top prospect Oscar Taveras is often argued to be the best raw-hitter not in Major League Baseball. Since he’s joined the Cardinal organization in 2010, he has obliterated the pitching at every level and now he’s considered a crucial piece of the future for the Cardinals.

I don’t claim to be a scout or anything and I haven’t seen Taveras hit in person, but I’ve seen a lot of him on TV and online and he can hit the ball. And when he does hit the ball, he hits it very, very hard. His swing is very explosive. It kind of resembles Prince Fielder except for, you know, Taveras is a bit…smaller. He hits every ball with authority. The ball comes off his bat and you think it’s a lazy fly ball to left and it turns into a 400 foot home run.

Last year at AA Springfield, Taveras had a slash line of .321/.380/.572. This year at AAA he’s doing good, but not great. He isn’t exactly tearing up the pitching, but it’s still early and he’s faring very well at a new level, hitting .281.

Many project him to be the starting right-fielder for the Cardinals in 2014. It seems pretty obvious with Carlos Beltran’s contract expiring and his age increasing. But this year there was a wrinkle thrown into that plan. Matt Adams is killing the ball right now. He is currently on the 15-day disabled list, but before yesterday he was hitting .542 in 8 games. If he continues to hit like this, the Cardinals will have a tough decision to make. And Taveras is here to stay.They could always trade Adams while his value is high, but you’d hate to do that and he turns out to be a star. There is a possible solution, however.

Jon Jay is overrated. There, I said it.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Jon Jay is a good player. He’s played well since taking over in center in 2011. He is a good player, but he’s not great. His defense is superb, but he sometimes takes questionable routes to balls and his lack of speed often forces him to make frequent diving plays. Opponents don’t hesitate to take an extra base due to his arm strength, or lack there of. He hit very well in 2012, but is struggling thus far in 2013, hitting just .220. It’s still early and Jay has earned the right to try to turn it around.

I’m not saying they should trade Jay. I’m not even suggesting they bench him. What I’m saying is that if Craig and Adams keep hitting and Taveras continues to hit in AAA, I have a feeling Jon Jay could be the odd man out. A lineup featuring Craig, Adams, AND Taveras is pretty scary. Maybe Jay will turn it around, or maybe not. These things have a way of sorting themselves out.

-Zack

 

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