Baseball: Cards’ rising star Taveras killed in car crash

LOS ANGELES- St. Louis Cardinals rookie fielder Oscar Taveras died in an automobile crash in his native Dominican Republic, the Major League Baseball club announced Sunday night. He was 22.

Dominican police said the highly-touted prospect was driving in a car with a female, believed to be his girlfriend, when he lost control of the vehicle, killing himself and the passenger.

“We are all stunned and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of the youngest members of the Cardinals family,” Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt said.

“Oscar was an amazing talent with a bright future who was taken from us well before his time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends tonight.”

Police spokesman Jacobo Mateo Moquete tweeted that Taveras was traveling between Cabarete and Sosua in Puerto Plata. He said Taveras and the woman were both killed instantly.

“I simply can’t believe it,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. “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.”

In 80 games this season, Taveras batted .239 with three home runs and 22 RBI.

Two weeks ago, he hit a home run in the Cardinals’ 5-4 win over San Francisco in game two of the National League Championship Series.

His last appearance came in game five on October 16, when he grounded out as a pinch-hitter in the top of the ninth inning. He stayed in the contest to play left field.

Teammates and players expressed shock on social media. “Absolute tragedy,” Cardinals teammate Matt Carpenter tweeted.

MLB commissioner Bud Selig issued a statement Sunday night and offered the league’s condolences. He said the current World Series was being played with “heavy hearts… in the memory of these two young people.”

“Oscar, a young member of the baseball family, was full of promise and at the dawn of a wonderful career in our game, evident in his game-tying home run against the Giants exactly two weeks ago.”

Details about funeral arrangements are expected to be released later.