Cheap Seats

Oscar Taveras and Mark Ellis could soon give St. Louis roster a big boost

After a slow start, St. Louis Cardinals top prospect Oscar Tavares seems to have found his hitting stroke at Class AAA Memphis.

Taveras is currently batting .300 for the young season after collecting seven hits in his last 14 at-bats. He has three doubles and two homers in 40 at bats so far in 2014.

A lefty hitter, Tavares hasn't had any problems with southpaws. He's split his at-bats evenly between lefty and righty pitchers. Against left-handers he's batting .400 with two doubles and a homer.

If Taveras can keep up the hot hitting and prove that he can stay healthy we could see him in St. Louis sooner rather than later. He could make a big difference on the MLB club which has been inconsistent offensively because of poor early season production from right fielder Allen Craig and shortstop Jhonny Peralta. With a weak bench, the Cardinals have been unable to manage Craig and Peralta's slow start.

Both players showed signs of life Sunday with two hits apiece. But an infusion of offense onto the roster by replacing fifth outfielder Shane Robinson (.167 with no extra base hits) and reserve infielder Pete Kozma (hitless in two plate appearances) with Taveras and Mark Ellis, who is soon to return from the disabled list, will make the Cardinals a much more dynamic team.

Taveras would likely get some playing time in right field with Craig (.122 with no extra base hits) either getting a day or two off or moving to first bast where Matt Adams has justified his playing time with a .326 average with five doubles and a homer. He could also play some in centerfield where he doesn't offer Peter Bourjos' speed element. But he's offer a better on-base percentage and more power.

While it might be something of a struggle to find enough playing time for everyone, the Cardinals would be a much deeper team with Taveras and Ellis on the active roster in St. Louis.

Ellis, at the very least, would be a good pinch-hitting option. He would have come in handy Friday night against the Cubs when manager Mike Matheny was so unimpressed with his options off the bench he let closer Trevor Rosenthal bat with two outs and the winning run on base in extra inning. Rosenthal made an out and the Cardinals went on to lose the game when Rosenthal gave up a three-run homer the next inning.

The other two Redbirds starting outfielders are also off to good starts. Stephen Piscotty is batting .375 with three doubles. Randal Grichuk is hitting .300 with four doubles and a homer.