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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Cardinals “minor league guy” is a Canuck, eh?

Any time hundreds of writers descend on a national event, such as Sunday’s MLB All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City, finding a unique angle on any story is just about impossible.

Not so for Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, who was clearly up to the challenge. The veteran writer unearthed a gem about the man previously best known around the game as “Minor League Guy.” That label stuck after FOX Sports Midwest was unable to identify the St. Louis Cardinals top position player prospect by name during a spring training broadcast, instead flashing the generic graphic.

Of course, I am referring to Springfield outfielder Oscar Taveras.

Last month, the just-turned-20-year-old earned the Texas League All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award and collected his second Cardinals organization Player of the Month award in three chances this season. On Sunday, Taveras was one of just three World players to remain in for the entire game, going 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly.

But the most interesting Taveras news coming out of Kauffman Stadium this past weekend is the story behind his passport, or at least one of them.

Elliott reports that Oscar spent his ages 12 until 16 living in Montreal, where he played midget ball. Had he not returned home to the Dominican Republic, Taveras would have been eligible for the MLB draft following high school. Instead, he signed with St. Louis four months after his 16th birthday. Less than four years later, the native of Puerto Plata, DR has become one of the top hitting prospects in the game.

The outfielder also shared that he has a baseball lineage. His father had once been an outfielder in the Milwaukee minor league system before suffering an elbow injury.

Taveras answered affirmatively to the question of whether or not he would be interested in playing for Team Canada in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

“Play for Canada? Why not? I have a Canadian passport,” Taveras told the paper. “I’ve never played for Canada before. It would be good for me. I work very hard at my game.”

After all, if Taveras made the Dominican WBC team, he would likely take a back seat to established MLB stars. On the other hand, it he suits up for the Great White Northerners, he would be the biggest Cardinal to hit Team Canada since Stubby Clapp!

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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43 Responses to “Cardinals “minor league guy” is a Canuck, eh?”

  1. crdswmn says:

    People are now upset that RA Dickey is not starting the ASG. The idea that TLR may have a plan to actually win the damn game appears to be irrelevant. And now I am defending TLR. I have hit rock bottom. No direction to go but up. 😉

    • Brian Walton says:

      Who started the ASG last season? The year before? It is pretty insignificant in the overall scheme of things.

      On the radio two weeks ago, I was asked about this and I said Cain would be my starter.

      • kray66 says:

        People need to chill out. This is the result of picking a knuckleball pitcher and a catcher that doesn’t really have the defensive experience to handle that. May be a stretch, but IF Yadi was starting and IF Yadi was playing, you might be able to start Dickey.

        • crdswmn says:

          Apparently having a strategy to win the game takes a back seat to bruised egos and hurt feelings. And of course since it is a New York player that has been “snubbed”, Those Who Are Full of Themselves will scream the longest and the loudest.

          • Brian Walton says:

            This too shall pass. It will be forgotten by the end of the week.

            • crdswmn says:

              Yes, I realize it will pass, but it sure is annoying right now. It seems no one thinks winning the game is important at all. Which begs the question—-why does the game count? I’d be less annoyed at all the childishness that is going on if it didn’t, but I am first and foremost a baseball fan, and when a game counts it should be played to win and all the egos and nonsense should be tossed out the window. I said at the very beginning that Dickey throwing the knuckleball was going to be an issue where catching is concerned and it appears TLR thinks so too. Posey admitted to the media that he has never caught a knuckleball. He is an inexperienced catcher and it just makes sense that a more experienced catcher like Ruiz should get the job of catching Dickey. And if winning the game was more important to Dickey than his ego, he should feel the same. And maybe he does, I haven’t heard if he has commented on this issue or not.

              I realize that I care more about this issue than many, who despite the HFA aspect of this game, still think the game is nothing but fluff that they don’t care about. And that is fine. We all have our issues.

              • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

                The real issue? All Star hitters will bleed this guy like “mean people”. The first guy has to complete two inning doesn’t he? If thats still true, thats why he isn’t starting. He might not finish an inning.

    • WesPowell says:

      Can’t let it go. Tony needs no defense. His numbers speak for themselves.

  2. JumboShrimp says:

    Brian, great article about Oscar. How strange Oscar might have spent formative years baseball swinging around Montreal, rather than the Silver Port.
    To Votto and Larry Walker, we can now add Oscar.

  3. blingboy says:

    Brian, great mention of Stubby Clapp. The only player ever to hit home runs in Athens and Beijing.

  4. blingboy says:

    Shelby got bombed again, with a lot of walks too. Something has to be going on there. AAA hitters are better than AA, but not that much.

    Mighty Joe had an ERA of 5 last year at Springfield and here he is throwing quality starts in the NL.

    Eventually, we will find out what is going on with Shelby. Meanwhile his trade value must be dropping fast. I wonder if the Pads want him as a major part of a Street trade.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Miller is still very young – 21. I sure hope they don’t give him up for a rental reliever. It is worth remembering that Wainwright had a 5.37 ERA in his first year at Memphis at the age of 22..

      • blingboy says:

        I’m sure Mo hasn’t lost his mind, but others teams might smell an opportunity. Some sort of multi-player thing perhaps, like last year.

      • blingboy says:

        Besides, who says BDW wouldn’t pay the $9M for next year. 😀 😀

        • Brian Walton says:

          My understanding is Street’s 2013 is a player option. If he continues to pitch well, what would stop him from opting out and cashing in on a multi-year deal on the open market this fall? If I was him, that is precisely what I would do.

          P.S. Not that this is anywhere near ironclad, but I have not seen any media mention of the Cardinals and Street – just fan speculation. If I missed it, please send me off to read up on it. Thanks.

          My view is that if they take on a pitcher making that much money, he will be a proven starter, not a closer.

    • kray66 says:

      Maybe the weight loss during the offseason is messing him up? I don’t know much about how he’s pitching specifically this year, but maybe that’s caused a drop in velocity? I figured it would only be an issue with endurance late in games or the season, but maybe it’s causing other problems.

      • crdswmn says:

        The talk has been that Shelby relies too much on his fastball and his coaches want him to work on his secondary pitches. Hence the no-shake rule, which forces him to throw whatever pitch his catcher tells him to throw. If he doesn’t have good control of his secondary pitches (which by the logic of the no shake rule he doesn’t), that could account for his poor outings. It may be a matter of he is just going to have to fail until he succeeds, if that makes sense.

        • crdswmn says:

          The previous post was supposed to be in reply to Bling’s original post. As to Shelby’s velocity, I can’t account for that mechanically because I don’t know enough about pitching. Any number of things could be causing that I suppose including the weight loss. Could be a nagging undisclosed injury, could be anything.

      • blingboy says:

        The winter program didn’t go over well as I understand. Supposedly his fitness and conditioning was not what was expected when he showed up for ST.

        Starting off behind couldn’t have helped. Perhaps last year was too easy, and the young man thought he had it all figured out.

        The example of Cleto proves that a 98 mph fastball that is fairly predictable and catches too much plate doesn’t work at the higher levels, so perhaps the velocity drop is a result of efforts to refine command. ?

        I’m not sure if its the slower fastball or the not ready for prime time secondary stuff that is getting hammered. And it would be useful to know if all the walks this past start came on secondaries, or if his fastball was missing. There really hasn’t been any detailed analysis over on the main site either that I’ve seen. But I haven’t had the time to search around too much.

        There isn’t any progress so far, at least measured by results, which is what matters.

        • WestCoastbirdWatcher says:

          Don’t miss this interview BB…………….things that Mo wants to talk about……… don’t neglect to acknowledge the “importance ” of computer analysis …….. or the ” trying to figure out a way to break the Tony retirement news” given the changing environmental complication every day? I wonder what those were? Oh…..and we don’t need any offensive help……….with Matheny trying to work Carpenter in at second……….. did he miss the Matheny apology in the paper? Busy guy. Anybody spot Mason at the AS game? Tony’s hair job makes him look 10yrs younger……….nice.

          • blingboy says:

            Great link, Westy.

            I’ll warn anybody planning to listen to the interview to be patient. The interviewer, Bob Ramsey, did more of the talking than Mo. But its worth it.

            Mo said they spend a lot of time and money scouting their own system. Interesting point. Know what you have coming when approaching a trade situation. Important to develop complementary talent as well as impact talent.

            The detail about Mo’s early baseball jobs was interesting. A wonk through and through.

            He stressed the impact of the new CBA (no picks for rentals). Said getting back two prospects (compensation picks) was part of the decision in the Edmonds and McGuire trades.

            The 6-7th inning reliever seems to be his concern now

            I didn’t spot Marty during the HR derby, but I’m wondering who the ‘Murphy’ was pitching to Beltran.

  5. WesPowell says:

    Little help. I used to know this but I’ve spaced it out.

    I was going over the break stats and Cruz’s on base is lower than his batting average. How does that happen?

  6. WesPowell says:

    AH. Thanks. I knew when I heard it I’d slap myself. More sacrifice flies than walks and hit by pitches combined.

    But sac bunts are not the same I think.

  7. WesPowell says:

    Damn it seems that would happen only to someone with just a few at bats. Cruz has played fairly often. If he maintains that the entire way it would be a dubious accomplishment.

  8. WesPowell says:

    That would qualify as trivia minutia. Most plate appearances in a season with a lower on base than batting average.

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