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.


  1. Wow, nice prospect. If there was one team that makes me think that they are above average in evaluating prospects, it is the Cards.

    I would Nate that traditional age setting for saber viewing players is age at mid season which would make Tavaras age 21 for next season. Still great what he is doing. He is clearly their risk mitigator if Beltran is out for any injury. But if he breaks out, I just do not see them trading either corner OF to make room for him. Teams need to extend out cheap assets if possible today, why push him if current assets are doing OK. I could see DFA if he is doing well and team is behind, though.

    1. So you are going to make me a liar for 10 days?

    2. You never know. If everyone stays healthy and the Cards are playing well, he could stay down on the farm all season. On the other hand, a need could arise, such as at shortstop and Taveras coud make someone else expendable in trade to fill that need.

    3. Ha ha, DrB, no, not busting your chops, I just wanted to point this out to those who are not familiar with how most baseball stats sites quote age for a player's particular season.