ST. LOUIS – Oscar Taveras, a top outfield prospect with the St. Louis Cardinals, died Sunday in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic. He was 22.
Leading into each of the last two seasons, Taveras was ranked among the top three prospects in the sport by Baseball America. He made his major league debut this year, batting .239 with three home runs and 22 runs batted in in 80 games.
“We are all stunned and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of the youngest members of the Cardinals family,” Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement released by the team. “Oscar was an amazing talent with a bright future who was taken from us well before his time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends tonight.”
Taveras signed with the Cardinals in 2008, when he was 16. He received a $145,000 bonus.
As a 19-year-old, he batted .386 in low A to win a Midwest League batting title. The following year, he was the player of the year in the double-A Texas League and was named the Cardinals minor league player of the year.
Taveras was 21 when the Cardinals promoted him to the major leagues this year on May 30. He was on the Cardinals roster when they beat the Dodgers in the National League division series. He also played in the NL Championship Series, hitting a home run in a Game 2 victory over the San Francisco Giants. The Cardinals lost the series, four games to one.
“I simply can’t believe it,” Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said in a statement. “I first met Oscar when he was sixteen years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived every day to the fullest.”
Taveras’ girlfriend also died in the accident.
“With heavy hearts, tonight we play Game Five of the 2014 World Series in the memory of these two young people,” Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.