BLUF: Elite level hitter with potential for plus-plus power; potential superstar number three hitter.
The Player: Oscar Taveras (OF, St. Louis Cardinals) – The Cardinals signed him for a modest bonus in 2008. Debuted in the DSL in 2009 with a .257/.338/.392 line in 65 games. Smoked the ball with a .322/.362/.526 line in 53 Appalachian League games in 2010. Leg problems held him back in extended spring training in 2011 but when he arrived in the Midwest League he hit .386 with 27 doubles and eight home runs in only 78 games. Skipped High-A this year and has hit .320/.370/.594 as a 20-year old in Double-A.
Basis of Report: Compilation – Industry Contacts
Body (6-2, 185): Average body with natural strength. Doesn’t stand out physically but has a decent frame. Solid athlete. Improved conditioning and physique over last year.
Hit: Incredible. Wide base with outstanding balance throughout swing. Leg kick keys timing and he loads heavily on his back leg before exploding at the ball. Tremendous hand speed and strength allows superb bat control. Very aggressive swinger with swing that borders on violent. Makes easy contact. Plus-plus hand-eye coordination. Incredible natural hitter with batting title potential. Could hit .280+ in the big leagues right now and has potential to hit .300+ for his career. Near big-league ready hitter with elite potential. Grade – 60/80
Power: Improved power projection this year. Plus-plus bat speed with incredible ability to square the ball. Can drive it to all fields and has improved loft in swing. Has 25-30 home run potential with tons of doubles as well. Could continue to improve power profile but has plus future power right now and I’m buying plus-plus ceiling. Grade (raw power) – 50/70
Arm: Arm strength varies at times. Showed more consistency this year. Flashes above-average raw strength with solid accuracy on throws. Doesn’t project for plus arm and still has to fine tune throwing mechanics. Grade – 50/50
Fielding: Worked very hard to improve defense this season. Has limited chance to stick in CF, more likely corner OF. Takes solid routes and gets good reads off the bat. Won’t be a defensive weapon but should be a solid all-around defender. Grade – 40/50
Speed: Average runner down the line. Aggressive stroke doesn’t let him get out of the box easily and can hamper his home-to-first times. Shows a tick better speed once underway in the outfield. Should stick as an average runner long term. Grade – 50/50
Summation: Continues to improve entire game. Absolutely incredible offensive ceiling. Potential batting champion with 25-30 home runs a year. Could be a superstar caliber number three hitter on a championship level club. May be best offensive prospect in the minor leagues. Has minimal CF profile but should be an average defender on either corner. Instincts are improving in all facets of the game. High character/good makeup type. Though he can contribute in all phases, the bat will carry him and could be elite. Potential superstar.
Relative Risk: Moderate. Still very young but has adjusted extremely well and is incredibly gifted.
Future: Wouldn’t be overwhelmed hitting in the big leagues right now but will likely spend the rest of the year in Double-A with a chance at Triple-A late in the year. Should make MLB debut in 2013 and may be the team’s best hitter by the end of 2014.