St. Louis Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras was helped off the field on Sunday after injuring his ankle during a slide into second base for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. According to Derrick Gould of the St. Louis Dispatch, x-rays on Taveras’ ankle came back negative and he is considered day-to-day at this point.
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) May 13, 2013
Taveras is one of baseball’s elite prospects, ranked at number three overall by both MLB.com annd Baseball America. The not-yet 21-year-old outfielder is in his first season in the Pacific Coast League and despite being very young for the competition, he’s more than held his own. Through 31 games for Memphis this year, Taveras has posted a .317/.351/.480 line with four long balls and 20 RBI. Taveras announced his presence as a prospect last season when he clobbered the Texas League to the tune of 23 home runs and 94 RBI to go with a .953 OPS.
What separates Taveras as a hitter from many of his peers, however, is his ability to recognize pitches early, which has gone a long way toward keeping his strikeout totals considerably lower than even the best young hitters. Don’t mistake that to mean he’s a patient hitter, though, as that wouldn’t be accurate, either. Taveras is up there to hit and while his walk rates have been respectable, they don’t show a guy who takes a lot of pitches. Instead, Taveras has shown the ability to put the ball in play, with authority, even when he expands the strike zone.
In many organizations, Taveras may have already made his big league debut. As impressive as he was during Spring Training, he might have broken camp. The Cardinals are in no major rush, however. They sit atop the NL Central through Mother’s Day and their outfield of Beltran, Jay, and Holliday have all stayed healthy thus far. Provided Taveras is okay after the scare with his ankle, it may not matter how healthy the big league outfield is for much longer; Taveras shows no signs of slowing down and sooner or later his play will force St. Louis into bringing him to the Show.