The 2012 Texas League All-Star Game that was played at ONEOK Field Thursday night was filled with top prospects, but it was Springfield's Oscar Taveras that shined the brightest. The St. Louis Cardinals top position prospect finished with three hits, including a two-run homer, to lead the North Division stars to a 3-1 victory over the South Division before a sellout crowd of 8,047 at ONEOK Field in downtown Tulsa.
The performance from Taveras made him the unanimous choice for MiLB.com's Top Star Award. Texas League President Tom Kayser presented the 20-year-old with the MVP award after a vote by media members covering the game.
Despite the big performance from Taveras, it was actually Nolan Arenado of the Tulsa Drillers who provided the game-winning RBI. With the game scoreless in the bottom of the fourth inning, Springfield's Kolten Wong led off with a base hit. After a wild pitch, Arenado brought Wong home with the game's first run with an opposite field ground-rule double.
On the next pitch, Taveras, who was batting in the cleanup spot, upped the lead to 3-0 when he drove a pitch from San Antonio's Ross Seaton over the right field bullpen.
The centerfielder, who is ranked as the overall #3 prospect in the St. Louis system, finished just a triple short of the cycle. He also added a second-inning single and a sixth-inning double.
"I feel really happy and really proud to be in my first All-Star Game and to win it," said Taveras. "I just wanted to have good at-bats and keep working hard while having fun doing it."
On the home run, he said he saw a pitch he liked from Seaton. "I just waited for a pitch in my zone, and I got it," he said. "It was a fastball and I took advantage of it. I really like hitting in this ballpark."
The offensive heroics from Arenado and Taveras made Tulsa's Nick Schmidt the winning pitcher in the game. The lefthander set the North down in order in the top of the fourth, his only inning of work.
Schmidt said he enjoyed the experience of playing in such a talent-rich game. "It was cool, and my adrenaline was flowing," he said. "It's a blessing being able to be on the field with those types of players and I'm very thankful for the opportunity."
A total of seven North pitchers limited the South to only two hits in the game. Tulsa's Coty Woods pitched a scoreless ninth inning to record the save.
Other Drillers players in the game included catcher Lars Davis, first baseman Ben Paulsen, shortstop Josh Rutledge and pitchers Dan Houston and Josh Sullivan.
Houston was the game's starting pitcher for the Northand worked two scoreless frames without allowing a hit. Sullivan was the only North pitcher to not get in the game. He was saved for a possible tenth inning in case the South mounted a last-inning rally.
Tulsa manager Duane Espy handled the North squad. "It was a neat night and there was so much talent, but they are all really good guys," he said. "As good of players as they are, they seem to be really good people. We had a lot of fun today."