Taveras hits first Triple-A homer

Cardinals' top prospect earns praise for all-around game

Oscar Taveras has scored seven runs in nine games for Memphis. (Allison Rhodes/Memphis Redbirds)

By Robert Emrich / Special to MLB.com | April 17, 2013 8:26 PM ET

While most people will talk about the offensive prowess of Oscar Taveras, it's his ability to do the little things that makes him stand out.

The Cardinals' top prospect hit his first Triple-A homer, a two-run shot, as Memphis beat New Orleans, 8-3, on Wednesday.

Taveras also doubled and scored three times for the Redbirds. With Justin Christian on with one out in the fifth inning, the 20-year-old outfielder took Jacob Turner deep over the left-center field wall, his first homer since Aug. 29, 2012 with Double-A Springfield.

"He's really knowledgeable for a young player," hitting coach Mark Budaska said. "He sizzled that ball to left-center, it was an opposite-field homer."

Taveras also laid down a sacrifice bunt in the seventh after Kolten Wong doubled to open the frame. Again, one might not expect a top prospect -- let alone the club's No. 3 hitter -- to move a runner over with a bunt. But Budaska credited the native of the Dominican Republic for his willingness to be an all-around player.

"He did the little things, he sacrifice bunted, he made a couple of nice catches in center," Budaska said. "I thought it was the right situation and he did a real nice job.

"It's something that I think the Cardinals organization works on. When he gets up to the big leagues, in certain situations, he might be laying down that bunt. They're just trying to prepare everyone for the little things."

With the two-hit performance, Taveras broke a 2-for-18 slump for the Redbirds. Overall, MLB.com's No. 3 prospect is batting .294 with seven runs scored and four RBIs in nine games. While Taveras hasn't started out on a hot streak, Budaska believes his drive will turn that around.

"Every level you move up, they're gonna get schooled a little," he said. "They're going to have to go through a learning curve. He's a really good competitor. You see the fire in his eyes and he has a passion and intensity for the game. I know he's a really good young player."

Wong, the club's No. 5 prospect, was 2-for-5 to raise his average to .353. The second baseman has hits in 11 of the 12 games he has played this season. Jamie Romak slugged a three-run homer, his fourth of the season for the Redbirds, and fell a triple shy of the cycle. It's all part of the Redbirds' varied attack, as veterans mix with younger players, something the former Major Leaguer is happy about.

"It's a good combo, it's a good feeling," Budaska said. "We didn't have that last year. Last year we didn't do that well, and this year we have a nice chemistry between players with experience and young players with ability."

Seth Maness improved to 2-1 after allowing three runs on 10 hits and struck out four over six innings for Memphis.

Ben Lasater slugged a two-run homer for the Zephyrs.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobertEmrich. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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