The game of baseball has become an international sport increasingly, with many talented players being groomed across the globe. That has seen many of the game’s best come in many different countries that have helped further the state of the game while demonstrating the vast number of top-level athletes around the world. Oscar Taveras was set to be among the next rising-stars in the majors. However, the former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder saw his life come to a sudden and tragic end.
Oscar Taveras’ journey to MLB
Oscar Taveras grew up the son of Francisco Taveras, a former Milwaukee Brewers’ outfielder in their minor league system.
It didn’t take long for the younger Taveras to find his way on the baseball field as he lived in Montreal from 12 to 16 before moving back to the Dominican Republic. He signed with the Cardinals as an international amateur free agent in November 2008, which the following year he played for the Dominican Summer League Cardinals.
Through that process, he moved his way up through the system playing for the Johnson City Cardinals in the rookie-level league in 2010, where he hit .322 with eight home runs, 43 RBI in only 53 games. Taveras worked his way to the Quad Cities River Bandits in the Class Midwest League in 2011, where he excelled, holding a triple slash of .386/.444/.584 with eight home runs and 62 RBI in 78 games played. That earned him the Midwest League batting title at age 19.
It was at that point; he began to earn more recognition across minor league systems as one of the best prospects. He played at the Double AA level in 2012, where he truly began to garner traction racking up 23 home runs and 94 RBI while batting .321. In the next two years, he continued that progressive move up to AAA, where he batted .318 with eight home runs and 49 RBI in 62 games in the 2014 campaign before he was finally called up to the majors.
Oscar Taveras’ short MLB Career
In the months leading into the 2014 campaign, Oscar Taveras had plenty of hype around him to be the next big star for the Cardinals.
Taveras was viewed as the best prospect in the team’s minor league system that was bursting with talent and the second-best prospect in the league behind Byron Buxton. He got his break at the end of May in the 2014 season, which was one of the most hyped call-ups that the organization had in quite some time.
In his first game, he hit a solo home run, which made him the youngest player since Eddie Morgan in 1936 to hit accomplish that in their debut. Taveras was sent back down briefly due to Matt Adams returning from injury but returned to the majors on June 30. Taveras played in a significant role for the rest of the season, compiling a .239 batting average with three home runs, 22 RBI, and 18 runs scored in 80 games played.
He played in the playoffs as a pinch hitter, where he had three hits and scored two runs in seven at-bats. That included a game-tying home run in Game 2 of the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants, which wound being the last time he batted in a Cardinals uniform.
Oscar Taveras’ tragic death
Oscar Taveras had become one of the Cardinals’ most promising pieces of their future, but that all came crashing down on October 26, 2015, during Game 5 of the World Series after he and his girlfriend died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.
Taveras and his girl were pronounced dead during his medical care treatment. There was a great outpouring of support and respect from the MLB and Cardinals after the tragic situation. In the weeks that followed, it was revealed that Taveras had a blood-alcohol level that was almost six times the legal limit in the Dominican Republic.
In the 2015 season, the XCardinals work OT patches on their jerseys in honor of him. Taveras had been pegged as the next great player in ST. Louis, but that never came to be after a tragic end to his young and short life.