(KSDK Sports) -- There are no guarantees in baseball—even for top prospects.
With Stephen Piscotty nipping at his heels, it's possible St. Louis Cardinals outfield prospect Oscar Taveras is having the same thought right now as he continues to battle back from a 2013 ankle injury that ended his season and dramatically shortened his spring training.
While Taveras is struggling, Piscotty is making an impression that is becoming more and more difficult to ignore. In the Arizona Fall League, Piscotty turned a lot of heads when he went .371/.430/.506 with 18 RBI , three doubles and three triples through only 23 games. Piscotty continued that tear in spring training batting .342/.426/.579 with a home run, eight RBI, four doubles and six walks.
The Cardinals have no doubt taken notice.
In a recent discussion on Oscar Taveras, manager Mike Matheny eluded to the fact that just because Taveras gets more attention doesn't necessarily mean he'll be get the first shot at the big leagues.
"If we need it, we're going to take the guy that's most prepared—not necessarily the guy with the most articles written about him," Matheny said. "It's not about the guy with the most potential, it's about who's playing the best at this time. That could be any of that group."
While the Cardinals see big things in Taveras' future, they're also quite clear on what they need to see from him before he will get his call.
"We need to see him play," Matheny said. "We need to see him play good defense and put together good at bats. He's going to have to stay healthy and he's going to have to continue to improve."
Despite several setbacks, there is still plenty of time for Taveras to "right the ship" and live up to the hype that has preceded him in recent years.
General manager John Mozeliak echoed Matheny's sentiments, further sharing continued vote of confidence in the young outfield prospect.
"The most important thing for Oscar is show that he's healthy and play every day," Mozeliak said. "His numbers will eventually speak for themselves."
In all likelihood Mozeliak is right.
If he's not, it's likely the Cardinals will still be just fine. Between the talent already with the major league club and a Triple-A outfield that's of major league quality, they have the depth they need to handle a few hiccups along the way.
"I would imagine an outfield of Taveras, [Randal] Grichuk and Piscotty, there's a few major league teams that might trade for that today," Mozeliak said.
While depth is great, Matheny is quick to hush any such talk within his organization after last year.
"Last year everybody wanted to talk about pitching depth and before you know it we've tried every single guy we have in the organization," he said, referring to the fact that the Cardinals used nine starting pitchers last season.
Now he prefers to err on the side of caution with such talk.
Whether or not he wants to talk about it, there is a definite competition in the future between Piscotty and Taveras to see which makes the transition first. Taveras might seem like the obvious answer, but don't be too quick to make that call.
The road map for Taveras is very clear. They want to see him succeed within this organization. For now, that chance is in his hands and there's no time to dawdle.
With a farm system like the Cardinals have there are two options—move up or move over.
Corey Noles is a Cardinals Writer and Columnist for The Daily Statesman. He is also a regular contributor to KSDK.com and Bleacher Report. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @coreynoles.