Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Another Title for Taveras; Prospect for Cards Wins Third Championship, All at Different Levels; MINOR-LEAGUE INSIDER - BASEBALL INSIDERS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Another Title for Taveras; Prospect for Cards Wins Third Championship, All at Different Levels; MINOR-LEAGUE INSIDER - BASEBALL INSIDERS

Article excerpt

While the Cardinals' minor-league officials stress that the purpose of the affiliates is to prepare prospects for the majors, not to win in the minors, their preference is to mix a little bit of both to develop more than players.

They want to groom contenders.

The Cardinals' U.S.-based affiliates finished with a combined winning record, put four affiliates in the postseason and for the third consecutive year the organization won at least one championship. Oscar Taveras has been the nexus. The young outfielder and the Cardinals' top hitting prospect helped Springfield (Mo.) to the Texas League title, his third championship in three years at three levels.

"His production had a lot do with his team's success, but it's also been helpful for him to continuously play in an environment where there are expectations to play as a teammate," Cardinals farm director John Vuch wrote in an email. "That way he learns what is going to be expected of him when he ultimately reaches the big leagues."

Here is a snapshot of the top affiliates and their 2012 seasons:

Class AAA Memphis, 57-87 - Third, Pacific Coast League American Northern division.

A trying season for the Redbirds included one of the youngest rosters in the PCL and the midseason need to outfit the club with seasoned free agents. Lessons learned for 2013.

Standout: Matt Adams, 1B. His season ended with elbow surgery, but his 18 homers in 67 games led the team and he hit .329 with a .624 slugging percentage and 50 RBIs.

Breakout: Joe Kelly, RHP. In 12 starts for Memphis, Kelly sizzled with a 2.86 ERA and hinted at the reliable rookie starter he became for the Cardinals midway through the season.

Class AA Springfield, 77-61 - Won Texas League championship.

A halting start gave way to a historic finish as Mike Shildt's club set a franchise record with 77 wins and blitzed through the Texas League postseason for the championship. …

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