Sunday, November 11, 2012
Fantasy Focus Prospect Edition: Oscar Taveras
Over the last few years, I've give a friend of mine who also plays fantasy baseball a few tips on prospects coming into the league which have worked out well for him. Now he periodically asks me if I know of any good ones coming along. I figure if he's that interested then maybe there are readers out there who might be too. I thought I would write a series of mini-profiles of some of the top prospects who I think will become fantasy relevant within the next year or two. This is a different exercise than simply reviewing top prospects as you would not be interested in 17 year olds who haven't played above rookie ball unless you are in a deep dynasty league. These will be in no particular order.
First up is St. Louis Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras. As if he Cardinals don't already have enough talent at the MLB level, they also have one of the better stocked farm systems in the game. Taveras is an example of how you don't necessarily have to spend 7 figures on international players to get high ceiling prospects as he was originally signed as a 16 year old out of the DR for $145 K in 2008. He bats and throws lefthanded. He is not particularly big by today's standards at 6'2", 180 lbs, but is compact and wiry strong. He's got a quick, powerful swing on a fairly level plane, maybe a minimal uppercut. Every scouting report I've read absolutely raves about his eye-hand coordination and his ability to "barrel" the ball in all areas of the strike zone. Despite that, he seems to have a god eye at the plate with excellent walk rates at all levels. He has played all 3 OF position, but profiles as a RF. He's not a speed burner and will probably not steal a lot of bases, but is also not a base-clogger. The Cardinals have been deliberate in how they have promoted him despite the eye popping numbers he's generated at almost every level.
Here is a summary of his pro experience starting with his age 16 season in the DSL(his BD is June 19. I will list his age from the start of each season):
Age 16 DSL .257/.338/.392, 13 2B, 8 3B, 1 HR, 28 BB, 36 K in 237 AB.
Age 17 Short Season .322/.362/.526, 13 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 12 BB, 42 K in 211 AB.
Age 18 Low A(MWL) .386/.444/.584, 27 2B, 5 3B, 8 HR, 32 BB, 52 K in 308 AB.
Age 19 AA .321/.380/.572, 37 2B, 7 3B, 23 HR, 10 SB, 42 BB, 56 K in 477 AB.
His .386 BA in the MWL was the highest in that very tough league for hitters since 1956! He is currently tearing up the Dominican Winter League with a .339 BA.
Taveras could probably start for a lot of MLB teams right now. The Cards are pretty well set in the OF with Holliday, Jay and Beltran out of the gate, so they can afford to be conservative with Taveras and start his age 20 season in AAA. Beltran is fairly fragile, though, so an opportunity could arise mid-season. The other possibility is that Taveras could force the issue and trigger some kind of trade to make room for him. If and when that happens, he's somone fantasy owners will want to consider rostering from day 1 of his MLB career. Keeper leaguers may want to draft him and stash him on the bench. He will likely be a big asset in 4 categories with a relative lack of SB's keeping him from being a 5 category stud in the Mike Trout/Matt Kemp/Bryce Harper club.