Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras undergoes ankle surgery

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We likely would have seen Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras in the majors by now if he was healthy, but his impact won’t be felt until 2014.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Taveras underwent surgery today to repair ligament damage and remove cartilage from his ailing right ankle. He’s expected to be in a walking boot for the next eight weeks, which makes his participation in winter ball unlikely. However, the hope is that he’ll be ready to go for spring training next year.

Taveras, who was ranked as the No. 3 prospect by Baseball America coming into the season, originally injured the ankle on a hard slide into second base in mid May. He attempted to come back a few times before finally shutting things down last month.

While the injury slowed Taveras’ development this year, his potential is unquestioned. The 21-year-old batted .306/.341/.462 with five home runs, five stolen bases and 32 RBI in 46 games this season in Triple-A and owns a .320/.377/.518 batting line over five seasons in the minors. If his recovery goes smoothly, he could be rooming center field at Busch Stadium next year.