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Cardinals calling up top prospect Taveras

Outfielder batting .325 at Triple-A; Adams goes on DL with tight calf

Cardinals calling up top prospect Taveras

ST LOUIS -- The waiting game is over. Or it will be Saturday when Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras arrives at Busch Stadium.

Fans have clamored for Taveras' promotion, and it finally came Friday night when baseball's No. 2 prospect was scratched from the lineup at Triple-A Memphis and sent packing to St. Louis.

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"I think everybody should be excited; I know he is," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We've been waiting for a while. There've been a lot of people anticipating him getting here and hopefully we can limit the distractions for him for where he just goes and plays the game."

Taveras signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2008 from the Dominican Republic. All he's done since then is hit and move up the prospect rankings. In 49 games this season at Triple-A, Taveras has hit .325 with seven home runs and 40 RBIs.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak has long felt that Taveras might be ready for the promotion, but limited roster space kept the 21-year-old outfielder in Memphis. That was until first baseman Matt Adams' left calf tightness became too much, forcing the Cardinals to place him on the 15-day disabled list.

So after spending five seasons in the Minors, since he was 17, Taveras will finally make his debut with St. Louis.

"There's definitely a high level of anticipation and excitement," Mozeliak said. "When you take the time and you invest heavily in the international market, you're looking to someday maybe get a return like this. I think everybody involved in that is A, proud, and B, excited, to see what he can do at the Major League level."

Taveras has hit at every stop along the way to St. Louis. He hit .386 in Class A, .321 in Double-A, and in 95 games between last season and this season at Triple-A, he's hit .316.

The outfielder will arrive in St. Louis on a tear. In his last 10 games at Triple-A, Taveras hit .462 with hits in all but one game, including two three-hit games and a four-hit game.

Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk, who was promoted Friday, has spent recent months watching Taveras up close, and he doesn't expect that trend to change.

"I would expect him to come up here and hit," Grichuk said. "I saw him down there for a couple months and his ability to barrel up balls is through the roof. I expect him to come up and do very well."

On Wednesday, the Cardinals start the first of three straight series in American League ballparks, which also provides an opportunity to play Taveras in the outfield, with Allen Craig sliding into the DH role.

Taveras typically plays in the corner outfield positions, but could be a possibility to play in center. Grichuk, a 22-year-old prospect, is capable of playing all three outfield positions.

"Oscar's going to get an opportunity," Matheny said. "We're going to see what he can do. You're going to see Oscar in the lineup."

"I think the simplest way to think about it right now is performance plays," Mozeliak said. "Ultimately that's what's going to drive what it looks like two weeks from now or three weeks from now."

Taveras, tabbed as the Cardinals' best prospect since Albert Pujols, is finally St. Louis-bound -- with a lot to live up to.

"He's done a lot of things right for a lot of years to get the excitement level to where it is," Matheny said. "I know the fans have been waiting for this to happen. We'll get a chance to see him, see how he mixes in. Hopefully he jumps on board with what we're trying to do as a club and realizes all he needs to do is his part."

Alex Halsted is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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