Our first meeting with Oscar Taveras
* Cards OF prospect Oscar Taveras took a .322 average with 25 doubles, 17 homers, 63 RBIs and a .968 OPS at double-A Springfield into the Futures Game.
(Originally published July 10, 2012)
By Bob Elliott
KANSAS CITY - As everyone knows, Étienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont, was the first European to discover the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers which became K.C.
(Okay, I looked that up, I didn't go from memory.)
Discoveries are still being made. Such as inside the World clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday before the 14th annual XM All-Star Futures Game.
“I’m Canadian, my passport is Canadian,” said centre fielder Oscar Francisco Taveras.
Discovering this city would have been Page One news had there been a local bugle, or the lead item on the website, had either existed back in 1713.
Finding out Taveras holds a Canuck passport, when it comes to Canadian baseball news would be like suddenly figuring out that high school kid Brett Lawrie, playing in a Washington state high school tournament, was from Langley, B.C.
Or, that John Axford wasn’t from the other side of Lake Erie and is actually from Port Dover, Ont.
Taveras is a stud. In its mid-season report, Baseball America rated him the 18th best prospect in the minors.
He was named to the Texas League all-star game and starred with a single, double and a homer. He also was the Cards’ organizational player of the month in April.
MLB.com ranks Taveras as the third-best prospect in the St. Louis system and has him ranked as the 86th-best prospect.
He is hitting .322 with 25 doubles, 17 homers, 63 RBIs and a .968 OPS in 79 games at double-A Springfield in the Cardinals system.
“Play for Canada? Why not? I have a Canadian passport,” said Taveras, who turned 20 on June 19. “I’ve never played for Canada before. It would be good for me. I work very hard at my game.”
Canada is looking for non- 40-man players for the World Baseball Classic qualifier in September at Germany when they try to qualify for the 2013 WBC, competing against Great Britain, the Czech Republic and the hosts.
Currently, the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder is not on the Cards’ 40-man roster, but even if he is come the fall, should Canada qualify, he would be a player Canada would want next spring.
Stern has retired and Bay is injured. Michael Saunders of the Seattle Mariners was our choice to be in centre on our Canada Day lineup.
Now, it appears there could be some competition.
So, how did Taveras wind up with a Canadian passport?
“I lived in Montreal from the time I was 12 until I was 16,” said Taveras, who returned home to the Dominican and signed with St. Louis for a $140,000 US bonus. Had he stayed in Canada, he would have entered the draft after his high school class graduated.
Born in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic there is a crest of the Dominican flag on his uniform.
“My father, Francisco, was an outfielder in the Milwaukee system before he hurt his elbow,” said Taveras, who played for the old Marquis de Montreal Development Network Quebec midget triple-A league.
“Sorry, I don’t remember the names of my coaches or my teammates,” said Taveras, who homered knocking in four runs on Canada Day in a 7-3 win over the Frisco Rough Riders.
A power bat, quick enough to play centre with a Canadian passport.
After making a run at .400 last year at Quad Cities when he finished with a .386 average, eight home runs and a 1.062 OPS, he has shown power this season.
In the top of the first on Sunday, Taveras bounced out and was robbed by centre fielder Anthony Gose, the Jays farmhand, who made a diving catch in centre in the third. He singled to left in the fifth and flew out to centre in the seventh.
Taveras was with the rookie-class Dominican Summer League Cardinals in 2009 and split 2010 between the rookie-class Gulf Coast Cardinals and class-A Johnson City.
He has a smooth swing with outstanding bat speed. He does not walk a lot, but projects to hit for a high average. Taveras has average speed and arm, but will probably be a right fielder when he reaches Busch Stadium, according to scouts.
“I saw him two weeks ago, he’s a heck of a hitter,” said one of the many evaluators watching pre-game infield.
“He has to be from the Dominican the way he swings the bat. He hits like a left-handed hitting George Bell. No way he’s Canadian.”
And Étienne de Veniard, Sieur de Bourgmont thought he could find things?