Cardinals’ Oscar Taveras, Others Discuss His Long-term Position, More

MiLB.com will publish the seventh part of my nine-part series on top-ranked prospects who are also top-rated defenders by next week. The piece focuses on the Cardinals’ Oscar Taveras (bio, stats here), the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball. In terms of interview extras — answers that didn’t make it into the story but are significant nonetheless — see below. Enjoy.

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Taveras on playing center field in Spring Training (via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch): “It has helped a lot, me being able to move and read balls in center field. But I don’t know where I’m going to be. Wherever there is an opportunity, I’ll take it… I’ve just played all three outfield positions and I’m comfortable wherever the manager puts me.”

Taveras on the big league camp experience (via Langosch)“I’ve learned a lot from the veterans, especially defensively. I’m happy to be here and learn from those guys. Jon Jay has helped me a lot, especially on where to position myself for some hitters. I feel more confident out there now. I look up to Jay. I like how he’s aggressive out there on balls.”

Outfield teammate Chris Swauger on whether Taveras knows how good he is: “He doesn’t listen to it. He just goes out and plays the game. It’s not as if he is over-thinking stuff or feels the pressure to perform. All he’s really worried about is the game. He doesn’t pay attention to what people are saying about him. I think all Oscar wants to do when he wakes up in the morning is go play baseball. When you play the game like that, everything outside is just noise.”

Swauger on what position Taveras plays long-term: “I think he can play center field, but he has no problem transitioning. To me personally, I think center field is the easiest outfield position to play because you’re straight on. I think he has the speed, range and instincts to play center field, but playing in the corners, not having that priority on fly balls and not having the view, if you want to throw him in right, he has one of the best arms I have ever seen. His routes are good enough for center field and his arm is good enough for right field.”

Double-A Springfield manager Mike Shildt on Taveras’ position long-term: “The good news is he has shown himself to be serviceable in center field.”

Shildt on Taveras’ overall progress: “I look out and see him being more consistent with his work habits, his focus. He has a real sense of purpose now. He has started to take ownership of his defense.

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