It Would Have Been Navarro

As the PawSox boarded the two team buses to take them from Scranton back to Pawtucket on Sunday, the final inning of the Red Sox/Twins game was playing on the bus (DirectTV rocks!).

 

(Photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

When NESN showed #68 Jose Iglesias making his major league debut in the 9th inning as a defensive replacement, a roar went up on the bus.  That was quickly followed by, “Hey Reddick, he stole your number.” (Josh debuted in #68 in 2009 before switching to #46 last year).  And when the 21-year-old shortstop flawlessly handled a routine grounder for the final out of the game, he got a long-distance cheer from the guys on the bus as he exchanged handshakes with his big league teammates at Fenway Park.

(Those are the moments that I’ll miss next summer).

I’m excited for Iglesias who has the fastest throwing release of any infielder I’ve ever seen and an uncanny ability to make accurate throws no matter how his body is contorted.  Jose probably won’t get to play much while he’s with Boston, but I’m sure he’ll make a few defensive gems while he’s on the big league roster.

But at the same time, I feel badly for Yamaico Navarro who undoubtedly would have earned the promotion if he hadn’t gone on the disabled list on Saturday with a strained oblique.

 

Navarro has been one of the International League’s best offensive players this year batting .329./.436/.612 in 23 games with 8 doubles, 2 triples, and 4 home runs.  Never known in the past for having good plate discipline, Yamaico has as many walks (13) as strikeouts (13) and ranks third in the league in OPS at 1.047.    

“He just gets better and better with experience,” said PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler.  “We know that he’s a dangerous hitter with a lot of life in his bat, but his plan at the plate has improved.  Everybody that has worked with him has hammered home the idea of getting a good pitch to hit every time that he goes to the plate.  He still gets overaggressive at times when he gets into a hitter’s count and starts hacking, but when he stays with a good approach; he’s a pretty dangerous guy.”

Navarro’s booming bat is not the only reason why is value is skyrocketing.  After playing strictly in the infield in his first five professional seasons, the 23-year-old is getting on-the-job training as an outfielder as has already appeared in left, center, and right for the PawSox.     

“He’s a good athlete and we’re just trying to throw him out there and see what he can do,” Beyeler said.  “Some days, he spends more time out in the outfield than the infield during batting practice because he enjoys it.  He’s like a pitcher – he likes to go out there during B.P. and run balls down and have a good time.  I think catching the ball is going to be easy for him because he’s athletic and he’s done it.  But you can’t simulate the other stuff.  You just can’t simulate throwing to bases and game speed and things like that.  But as far as catching the ball, he’s pretty good with that because he does it all of the time during batting practice.”

Jose Iglesias is a tremendous prospect with a promising future, but he’s not ready to contribute offensively at the major league level.

Yamaico Navarro is, and he can provide adequate defense at six positions (and CF in an emergency). 

Here’s hoping that he’s off of the disabled list soon.

* * * * *

The PawSox pulled within a half game of first place Scranton/WB with a 5-4 win over the Yankees on Sunday and one of the unlikely heroes was RHP Dennis Neuman.

The 21-year-old relief pitcher was promoted from Single-A Greenville on Sunday because the PawSox desperately needed a fresh arm in the bullpen until Scott Atchison clears waivers and returns to Pawtucket.

Neuman wasn’t exactly dominating the South Atlantic League with a 6.59 ERA in 10 outings for Greenville, but he calmly took the ball with a 1-run lead in the 8th inning and got the final six outs against one of the best hitting teams in the International League.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, because Neuman has shown a knack for coming through under a white-hot spotlight.

As a 12-year-old, he starred for Curacao in the Little League World Series, pitching his team to a 9-1 win over Worcester, MA in the consolation game.

As a 19-year-old, he pitched for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic and tossed a scoreless 8th inning in a shocking 3-2 win over the star-studded Dominican Republic.

There were no signs of jitters in his Triple-A debut as Dennis earned a 6-out save.

His stay with Pawtucket could be brief, but Neuman had us at “hello.”

* * * * *

 

Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez turned 29 on Sunday and homered on his birthday.  After 34 games he’s batting .314/.389/.504 with 12 doubles, 1 triple, 4 HR, and 24 RBI.

But I don’t think the San Diego Padres are regretting the trade that sent Gonzalez to Boston.

Have you noticed the minor league stats of the three players that Boston sent to San Diego?

1B Anthony Rizzo (Triple-A):  .397/.466/.759 with 10 HR and 42 RBI in 29 games.

RHP Casey Kelly (Double-A):  2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in 6 starts (33.1 IP, 38 H, 23 K).

OF Reymond Fuentes (Single-A):  .313 with 9 stolen bases.

Yikes.

* * * * *

The PawSox open an 8-game homestand on Monday night at 6:15 with the start of a 4-game series against the Gwinnett Braves.

I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:00 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I have finally joined Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.

1 Comment

Poor Reddick. When he first got to choose a number last year he’d actually taken #39–then Saltalamacchia took it when he came to town!

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