The baseball world was hit hard last night by the loss of St. Louis Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras.
Taveras was one of the top prospects in all of baseball and, at 22-years old, was just weeks from playing for the Cardinals in the playoffs. He had a car accident in the Dominican Republic that killed him and his girlfriend. The news was confirmed yesterday by several sources.
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Taveras, actually holds a Canadian passport and lived in Montreal from the ages of 12-16. He played baseball while he lived there before returning to the Dominican Republic. La Metropole Sports had an opportunity to talk to one of Taveras’s coaches from his childhood.
Claude Roy was Taveras’s manager in 2007 when Taveras, then 15, played above his level in Midget which is usually for 16-18 year olds with the Montreal Orioles.
“The phone started to ring last night with people who started to tell me,” Roy said. “We never expect to hear that someone at 22 has died tragically or by any other cause. Whether they are a baseball player or not. All the potential ahead of him was the most disappointing thing.”
“When he came onto the field, he was like a kid in a candy store,” said Roy. “Never saw him in a bad mood. He was a professional. Had fun with everything. Laughed all the time.”
“Oscar had no problems [fitting in with the older players],” Roy said which had been an issue he had seen before. “He came in, hung up his hat and was at home. I hope he enjoyed playing for me as much as I liked watching him play.”
Roy had Taveras in centerfield, where he played for most of his professional career. It is not a coincidence.
“That’s where the game happens,” Roy said. “From catcher, to the short-stop to the centerfielder, it all happens up the middle.”
Taveras played will despite playing with kids three years older. He hit .315 with 10 RBI in 2007 with the Orioles.
That performance was good enough to earn him the starting centerfield spot on Team Quebec – an all-star team of sorts – for the Canadian championships held that year in Quebec City. Roy was a coach on that team.
Quebec that year played in the gold medal game, but fell short in a 5-4 loss against Ontario in 10 innings. Taveras hit an RBI double in the 7th inning to score two runs and tie the game at 3. Earlier that day he went 3/3 to put Quebec in the championship game.
Taveras, after that year, went back to the Dominican Republic. The reason was probably to get his professional career started. If he had stayed in Canada, he would only be eligible for the draft after high school or even college and his bonus would depend on where he was taken. By going back to the Dominican, he was eligible to get a signing bonus and sign with the team of his choice in 2008 as a free agent.
He made his Major League debut this year. The last two seasons he was ranked as a top-five prospect in all of baseball. He was 3/7 in the postseason, including a home run against the San Francisco Giants in Game Two of the National League Championship Series.