Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Luhnow Reflects on the Impact of Taveras; Notebook; Former Cardinals Executive Says He Was the Player Who Solidified the Team's Latin American Presence; BASEBALL

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Luhnow Reflects on the Impact of Taveras; Notebook; Former Cardinals Executive Says He Was the Player Who Solidified the Team's Latin American Presence; BASEBALL

Article excerpt

PHOENIX * About five years into the Cardinals' effort to reinvigorate their presence in Latin America and assert their ability to harvest talent, director of amateur scouting Jeff Luhnow and field coordinator Mark DeJohn discussed the breakthrough they needed.

The process had to have a face, a singular talent who personified their results.

That was about the time one emerged: Oscar Taveras.

"I think we all recognized that the system was starting to produce players and they were coming over, they were playing in the Appalachian League, they were playing in the Gulf Coast League," Luhnow said, recalling the conversation from around 2009. "But we really needed That Guy. We needed the guy who is going to be the man who is going to represent the Cardinals' Latin American program, who was going to be the face of the Latin American program and our progress there. It was about that time that we had that conversation that Taveras started to produce at a high level and it became obvious that he was going to be a top prospect, not just in the Cardinals' system but throughout baseball."

Luhnow, now the general manager of the Houston Astros, spoke about Taveras on Tuesday at the annual general manager meetings. He was at home watching the World Series on Oct. 26 when the first reports came: Taveras had been killed with his 18-year-old girlfriend in a single-car accident in the Dominican Republic. He was 22. Like many throughout baseball, Luhnow was stunned by the news. Luhnow declined initial invitations to discuss Taveras and when recalling the young talent he helped procure for the Cardinals, he spoke of a loss felt throughout baseball.

As the Cardinals' farm director and director of amateur scouting, Luhnow championed a return to the Dominican and other Latin shores. In 2004, the Cardinals did, and their first steps were hesitant. He recalled being "terrified" by spending $60,000 to sign Donovan Solano. With current director of international scouting Moises Rodriguez as one of the point men in identifying Taveras' ability, it took $145,000 to land Taveras in 2008. …

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