Sticking in Center: Opinions on Oscar

This was before we signed Bourjous... so now this all seems irrelevant... but I had planned on grabbing a bunch of tweets and talking about whether Oscar would play right or center... looks like he'll be in right field barring an injury. So... whatever. This is my 3rd and last fanpost... I see the light... I'm coming home Grandpa!!



John Mozeliak

I think from a talent standpoint, most would agree that when he played center field, he played very well, and at a very high level. I don't think it is a major setback because of the injury. I would say the biggest negative, from a defensive standpoint, is when you think about him trying to play center field, he didn't get a lot of reps like we had hoped for. But from an offensive standpoint, I think he's fine. He can step in and contribute. The big questions will be where he can fit in defensively, and how confident are we with him hin center.

He has shed that tag, working hard on his defense to the point where he can play a solid center field. An average runner who won't steal much but isn't a liability on the basepaths, Taveras profiles best as a right fielder and has the arm strength for the position.
Jim Callis

"He has that menacing but measured swing, while his ability in the outfield is also superlative though not nearly as innate."

"In the words of an envious scout with a rival National League Central club, Taveras 'has very good actions with a plus, plus arm" and "glides to the ball.'"

"After Taveras collected one of his six assists with a laser-like throw or tracked a ball to the wall, Swauger found himself thinking more than once, "No, I can't do that. He plays the outfield with absolutely zero fear," Swauger said. "He plays shallow, he's not afraid to go back on the ball, he's not afraid to get burned -- and occasionally, he will. That is something that I picked up. I learned from him to be less scared, and I think he learned from us that there is a time and a place where we need to play smart."He's so young and he's playing the game like a kid. And he is a kid and he's so good at it. But once he starts thinking like a man -- and his head catches up to his physical skills -- there is no limit to what this kid can do."

Put another way: The athleticism is there, but the so-called baseball smarts are sometimes missing. Like on those occasions -- both in the Minors last season and at times during big league camp this spring -- when he has played too shallow, too confident in situations that demand greater caution.

"Taveras when he was 16, working out and learning organized baseball for the first time at the Cardinals' academy in the Dominican Republic, not far from his hometown, Puerto Plata. 'He had virtually no understanding of how to get in proper position, how to get off the ball, how to take his routes, how to come in on ground balls, how to throw," said Shildt, who also managed a 17-year-old Taveras at short-season Johnson City in 2010 before reuniting with him last year at Double-A Springfield. "You would expect all that. It's been an evolution.'



One saw him as a .250 hitter with 35+ home run potential. The other saw the center fielder as a .290 hitter with 25+ home runs annually. Plus, contacts thought he could stick up the middle for now.

His base running and fielding has improved significantly but he still has some work to do in those areas and he’ll return to the minors to open 2013 but could be ready for the majors after a few months of triple-A seasoning.


Future Redbirds

The improvements in Taveras' defensive game are noteworthy. Instead of being a mediocre corner outfielder, he looks more like a mediocre centerfielder or a very good right fielder. The hard-to-quanitify nature of defense is only magnified when talking about minor leaguers -- fields aren't as well kept, teammates aren't as adept, positioning is less consistent -- but Taveras has made enough changes to move those subjective notes about his defense in a positive direction. Changing a narrative takes time but all indicators point to an upswing for Taveras.

For those clamoring to move Taveras' bat to St. Louis, the nature of prospects is likely to disappoint. Expectations are lofty and prospects that execute on day one are far outnumbered by those that struggle to adjust. The silver lining is that Oscar Taveras is a sneaky good defender. He's been playing sleight of hand with prospect watchers. Pay attention to his offense and you'll miss the trick of his defense.


CBS Sports

The biggest difference between Taveras in 2012 from 2011 is his defense, something he's improved greatly. While he still probably projects as a corner outfielder, he could play center field and has played mostly center field this season at Springfield.

"I try to work on my defense every game, every practice. I'm very excited about my defense," Taveras said.

Wong said the difference is noticable.

"He's been really good at tracking down balls, it just goes to show how good of a player he can be," Wong said. "He's good right now, but he can get a lot better with age and maturity. It's impressive to see how good he is right now."

Buechele said Taveras plays as shallow a center field as he's seen anyone play, yet he's got the speed to track down whatever's needed. Despite his age -- Taveras' 20th birthday was in June -- he spent a couple of weeks with the bog-league team in the spring, learning besides the likes of Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran.

"I talked to them about my defense and how to improve," Taveras said. "Those two guys are really good and so I was happy to be around them and study how they play the game. Those are two guys that play the game the right way."

CBS Sports


Viva El Birdos Commenters

Taveras has only developed as a CF in his career with his much improved defensive skills believer he can stick at that position assuming the organizations long term plans for Jay but when your looking for position for Craig (assuming he can stay healthy athletic enough to handle RF), and Adams, see Taveras in CF long term.

DT Flush

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