The St. Louis Cardinals made the much anticipated call to highly touted, top prospect Oscar Taveras on Friday night. He was moving to the big leagues from Triple-A Memphis.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic at the age of 17 in 2008, Taveras made his professional debut in 2009. Jason Catania from Bleacher Report wrote that prior to the 2014 season Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus (subscription required) praised Taveras,
“The bat is very special, with electric hands, ferocious bat speed, and contact so easy and natural that it’s conceivable that Taveras shares a genetic relationship with the bat in his hand. He’s ready to hit at the major-league level…so whenever he gets to promotion, be prepared to watch a future batting champion and perennial All-Star.”
Saturday Taveras made his major league debut, playing in right field and batting sixth in the lineup. The 21-year old showed why he was baseball’s number two prospect and has been called the best Cardinals prospect since Albert Pujols, in his second major league at-bat.
He went yard for his first major league hit off San Francisco Giants’ pitcher Yusmeiro Petit in the fifth inning, absolutely crushing the ball. The first home run of his promising career gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead over the Giants just before the game was rain delayed. The game resumed but was delayed again with the St. Louis still hanging onto their one run lead, in the bottom of the sixth inning, courtesy of their new rookie.
It’s not very often that you see a 21-year old call-up hit a home run in his first game for his first hit. It is extremely impressive. Prior to the game Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny talked about his excitement for Taveras, according to MLB.com’s Adam Halsted, saying,
“What I’m supposed to do is downplay it. We bring a young guy up who’s 21 years old, and that still blows me away he’s only 21. I’d be lying to you to say I wasn’t excited for him.”
Surely Matheny is even more excited for the young phenom now. With first baseman Matt Adams on the disabled list, Taveras is not going anywhere anytime soon, if ever. Especially with the Cardinals moving into a week of interleague play at three different American League ballparks where St. Louis will have the benefit of the designated hitter position in their lineup. Taveras is going to have plenty of chances to keep up his extremely hot hitting.
MLB.com reports that in his last 10 games at Triple-A Memphis, Taveras has hit .462 with hits in all but one game, including two three-hit games and a four-hit game. On the year in Triple-A he has a slash line of .325/.372/.534 and it appears facing major league pitching is not going to slow him down.