The above mentioned "Minor League Guy" rose to internet fame this week with his mystical Sidd Finch-esque story being shared around the country. Many questions began to arise - who is he? Why is he here? What powers does "Minor League Guy On Third" actually have? Finally, we're beginning to learn some answers.
Minor League Guy is actually Oscar Taveras, the second ranked prospect in the entire Cardinals organization according to Baseball Prospectus. Taveras, at just 19 years old, won the Midwest League batting title last year at Quad Cities with a healthy .386 average. In fact, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently profiled him as a player who will sell tickets in the future:
Taveras, a native of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, signed with the Cardinals as a teenage free agent for $145,000 in 2008. He made his debut domestically in 2010, and later that year hit .322 for rookie-level Johnson City. That striking ability to hit is what the Cardinals saw when he first tried out for them at 16.
"You always have this feeling that he's half a level ahead of where he's playing," Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, who was the Cardinals' director of amateur scouting when Taveras signed, said recently. "You get the feeling he's the best player on the field when he comes up to the bat. He's the guy you want to watch. He's the guy who sells tickets in the future."
So how did Taveras, one of the bright starlets of the Cardinals organization, become known nationwide as "Minor League Guy?" Well, this wasn't a simple screengrab snafu, but an issue with the entire broadcast. The Cardinals announcers didn't have a #91 in their program when Taveras entered St. Louis' game with the Mets. Given that Taveras wasn't invited to major-league spring training and has only made recurring appearances with the big leaguers, perhaps this is understandable. The Cards announcers even talk about some of the minor leaguers continually swapping numbers in the 90s. It's a nightmare scenario for an announcer, but given the laissez faire attitude of Spring Training, the Cards announcers had some fun with it. Here's the raw footage of the Cardinals announcers being flummoxed for minutes as to the identity of "Minor League Guy."
Ironically, Minor League Guy did have a great year last year. And, the famous on-screen graphic was actually a quick-witted production team that made light of the announcers having no clue who the unidentified Taveras was. Fox Sports Midwest actually sent out an apology to Big League Stew saying, "Our apologies to Oscar Taveras. He's the Cardinals top hitting prospect, so we expect to be identifying him as a 'major league guy' in the next few years." Hopefully, we can all look forward to the day when Taveras' on-screen graphic lists him as Minor Major League Guy.