When Scott, our prospect writer, gave out his awards for 2012, he gave Oscar Taveras the minor league break-out hitter award, saying this in September, “Taveras spent the entire year at Double-A Springfield after skipping the High-A level over the off-season. The 20-year-old is being touted as the best pure hitter in the minors after hitting .321/.380/.572 and winning the Texas League batting title. He’s ready for big league pitching now, but the Cardinals will hold off ’til next year to use him, perhaps right out of camp if the opportunity is there. Now excuse me as I go walk my schnauzer that I named Grey.” Hmm, didn’t remember reading that last part. From what I’ve heard, Taveras’s biggest strike against him is he doesn’t see any strikes — turn of a phrase point! He’s being compared to Vladimir Guerrero without having knees like Mama from Mama’s Family. Taveras swings and hits everything. Also, like Vlad, his swing is long, unwieldy and it looks like he could swing at pitches above his head and in the dirt on two consecutive pitches. (Google video of Oscar Taveras if you don’t believe me; what, you don’t believe me? My feelings are hurt.) So, what can we expect of Oscar Taveras for 2013 fantasy baseball?
What wasn’t mentioned above, his stats also look like a young Vlad. I will call you, Vladimir Guerrerito. He can hit for power and steal bases. At twenty years old, he hit 23 homers in 477 ABs last year with 11 steals. Still, there’s no spot for Taveras out of camp, as of right now. I wouldn’t gamble my 100-count box of Gregg Jefferies rookie cards on Jon Jay, Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran all making it to April healthy. So, there could be a chance for Taveras, but my guess is we don’t see him until June, at the earliest. With his loopy swing, he needs to show what he has in Triple-A. Also, I don’t trust him to hit in the major leagues immediately. That’s not to say, he won’t. I just don’t trust it for fantasy. Would I grab him off waivers? Indubitably. Would I draft him in keeper leagues? Don’t make me link to that commercial again. In most mixed leagues, I’m gonna wait to see how things shake out. As of right now, I’m going to be very conservative and give him the line of 35/7/25/.275/9 in 220 at-bats, i.e., he’s not great for anything but the deepest of leagues.