Cards assign Taveras to Minors camp

Top prospect told to focus on left field at Triple-A Memphis

By Sam Dykstra / Special to | March 29, 2013 3:44 PM ET

There was never much doubt about the move, but the Cardinals made it official: Top prospect Oscar Taveras will start the season in the Minors.

The Cardinals announced Friday that they sent the 20-year-old outfielder to Minor League camp with fellow non-roster invitees Rob Johnson and Greg Garcia. They finalized their Opening Day roster by optioning right-hander Maikel Cleto and outfielder Adron Chambers to Triple-A Memphis.

Taveras batted .289 with a .746 OPS, two homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs in 24 Grapefruit League games.'s No. 3 overall prospect had a breakout 2012 campaign at Double-A Springfield. He led the Texas League with a .321 average and finished second in OPS (.953) and RBIs (94). His 23 homers -- the first time he reached double digits in the Minors -- ranked fifth.

Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2008, the native of the Dominican Republic is expected to start the year in the Pacific Coast League but not before receiving a specific set of instructions from Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. Taveras will be expected to play all three outfield spots for the Redbirds, but the skipper wants the organization's prized prospect to focus on left field.

"Left field, he wasn't too good with the angles, the balls off the bat," Matheny told "I encouraged him in batting practice, too, to make sure he gets over into left field and spends as much time working there as well as where he's most comfortable, in right. He needs work all the way around, but I think some additional work in left field is going to be beneficial to him."

Sam Dykstra is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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