It cost the Boston Red Sox $51,111,111.11 to acquire the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka from the Seibu Lions (and another $52 million to sign him).
It cost the Red Sox $1 – yes, that’s one dollar – to acquire the rights to Daniel Nava from the independent Chico Outlaws (and another $1,499 when he made one of their minor league teams).
In between those two extremes you have Yamaico Navarro.
As described in this remarkable story by Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe, Navarro grew up in brutally tough neighborhood in the Dominican Republic in a house with no running water or electricity. When Boston signed Yamaico for $20,000 in September of 2005, it represented roughly three years’ salary for his policeman father.
It looks like money well spent.
The 23-year-old infielder is off to a great start for Pawtucket. Through 12 games, Navarro is batting .341/.463/.500 with 5 doubles and 1 triple.
“I’m going to tell you right now – he’s a big league player,” said PawSox hitting coach Chili Davis. “How soon he wants to get there is up to him. The kid has so much talent that it’s scary. He’s not afraid, he’s a very aggressive hitter, he hits the ball all over the field, he’s got power, he can run a little, and he can play anywhere. What more can you ask for?”
A key to Navarro’s hot start has been uncharacteristic plate discipline. In his first five professional seasons, Yamaico never drew more than 49 walks. But this year, he’s already drawn 10 walks in 54 plate appearances – the only International League hitters with more walks are his teammates Daniel Nava (12) and Lars Anderson (11).
“We all chase pitches at some point,”Davis said. “This game presents highs and lows. I’d like to see how he handles a ‘low’ and how quickly he gets out of a slump. That’s what I’m here for – to help him learn how to bounce out of those slumps.”
Navarro started last season at Double-A Portland, before earning a promotion to Pawtucket in early August. After spending less than three weeks with the PawSox, injuries in Boston led to a quick major league promotion and Yamaico predictably struggled, batting .143 in 20 games with the Red Sox.
But the big league stint was clearly beneficial as Navarro carries himself with a look of confidence that wasn’t present in his time with Pawtucket last season.
“The looser he stays and the more fun he has, I think the better player he is going to be, because he’s all business when he walks into that batter’s box,” Davis said.
So far this season, business is booming.
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The PawSox won their 5th straight game on Tuesday night at McCoy, beating Syracuse 3-1. A 2-run single by Lars Anderson in the first inning gave Pawtucket all of the runs it needed, and Kyle Weiland pitched 5 strong innings to earn his first Triple-A win.
Pawtucket (8-5) has climbed into sole possession of first place in the I.L. North and will look to run the winning streak to six as it hosts Syracuse on Wednesday night at 6:15. 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.
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