SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, a 22-year-old slugger who was regarded as one of the majors’ top prospects, died Sunday in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic.
Taveras was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Camaro at the time of the crash on a highway between the beaches of Sosua and Cabarete in Puerto Plata, about 215 miles north of the capital of Santo Domingo, said Col. Diego Pesqueira of the Metropolitan Transportation Agency.
“He wasn’t carrying document at the time of the accident, but his body was identified by family members,” Pesqueira said.
National police spokesman Jacobo Mateo Moquete said he was told by the mayor of Sosua that Taveras lost control of his vehicle and went off the road.
Taveras made his major league debut this year. He hit .239 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 80 games for the NL Central champions.
“I simply can’t believe it,” Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak said in a release. “I first met Oscar when he was 16 years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived every day to the fullest.”
Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said the organization was “stunned and deeply saddened” by Taveras’ death.
“Oscar was an amazing talent with a bright future who was taken from us well before his time,” DeWitt said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends tonight.”
Taveras was a teenager when he signed a free-agent deal with the Cardinals in 2008. Before this season, Taveras was ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect by MLB.com and Baseball America, and he had a. 321 average over six minor league seasons.
He homered against the Giants’ Yusmeiro Petit in his major league debut on May 31.
“I think he can be a star,” manager Mike Matheny said last Monday at his season-ending press conference. “He proved that at times. Right to the end, he was very, very much into the competition. Yes, he wanted to be the guy out there every day. You see some things offensively that absolutely excite you.”