St. Louis Cardinals’ top prospect Oscar Taveras made news this week, though, surprisingly, it wasn’t for his offensive prowess.
Rather, the 20-year-old outfielder officially switched agents, according to MLB Trade Rumors, dropping Melvin Roman in favor of Rob Plummer. With clients that include teammate Carlos Martinez, as well as the Twins’ Miguel Sano, Plummer now represents three of the sport’s top Dominican-born prospects.
Taveras will enter the 2013 season ranked as Prospect Pipeline’s third-best prospect behind Jurickson Profar and Dylan Bundy, respectively. After batting .321/.380/.572 with 67 extra-base hits last season for Double-A Springfield, a case can be made for him as baseball’s top prospect.
Having said that, here are a few bold predictions for Taveras’ 2013 season.
After mastering Double-A last season as one of the youngest players at the level, Taveras will likely open the 2013 season at Triple-A Memphis in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
As an everyday player hitting in the heart of the Memphis lineup, the 20-year-old has the potential to post gaudy offensive numbers—I’m talking something in the range of a .350/.425/.600-plus slash line.
After wreaking havoc on Pacific Coast League pitchers for the first several months of the season, Taveras will finally be promoted to the major leagues shortly after the All-Star break.
Even though the outfielder may be able to hold his own in the major leagues as early as Opening Day, at least in my opinion, expect the Cardinals to delay the start of his service time as they try to find him regular playing time.
There’s also the chance that he debuts well ahead of schedule, which would only occur in the wake of a significant injury to either Matt Holliday or Carlos Beltran.
At the end of the 2013 season, Taveras’ offensive stats could ultimately look similar to Buster Posey’s as a rookie in 2010, when he batted .305/.357/.505 with 18 home runs and 55/30 K/BB in 108 games.
Following his promotion to the major leagues, Posey’s bat carried the Giants down the stretch of the regular season and into the World Series.
Provided that he’s called up sometime before Sept. 1, Taveras has the potential to make a Posey-like impact during the second half of the 2013 season.
Although he may not win the Rookie of the Year award, Taveras's production and role with the Cardinals down the stretch will result in a top-three finish.