|Oscar Taveras crosses home plate|
after a pinch-hit home run in the
NLCS on Oct. 12.
Oscar Taveras, a 22-year-old outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and long touted as one of the brightest prospects in baseball, died Sunday in an auto accident in his native Dominican Republic. Also dead in the crash was his 18-year-old girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo.
Oscar Taveras was gonna be a star. Everybody believed that. Taveras was Baseball America's No. 3 prospect going into the 2013 season, which was wrecked by an ankle injury that required surgery. He was No. 3 again going into the 2014 season, earned a quick call-up to the majors, struggled, was sent back to Triple A, mashed some more, came back to St. Louis ...
And, basically, never got going. By season's end, manager Mike Matheny was publicly questioning Taveras' work ethic and conditioning. Some observers outside the organization questioned Matheny's patience with the megaprospect. In Matheny's defense, he was in a pennant race, he gave the rookie almost 250 plate appearances, and the rookie didn't hit. Taveras was on the bench for the playoffs. He had three hits in seven pinch-hit appearances in the playoffs, including an important home run, but never got a start.
Still, the Cardinals were penciling Taveras in for the right field job next year. They were counting on him turning into a middle-of-the-order force. And now that won't happen.
"Tomorrow isn't promised to any of us," Kirby Puckett said when he announced his retirement in 1995. Taveras has had his final today, and we all have lost something.