On May 2, 2010, the Royals traded prospect reliever Carlos Rosa to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for shortstop Rey Navarro. Navarro was a third round pick of the D-Backs in 2007 who hadn't hit at all in his first few professional seasons. At the time of the trade last May, many of us were puzzled why the Royals would deal a promising prospect arm off of a team that had an awful bullpen (I seem to recall this was around the same time as the Josh Rupe experiment). Baseball America had Navarro as the number 12 prospect in the Arizona system, but most people did not agree with the trade for a no-hitting middle infielder. Throughout the prospect dominance of the Royals' 2010, however, Rey Navarro continued to hit like a non-prospect. Then something changed a bit.
On 6/18/11, Navarro hit his 6th and 7th homers of the season.
While sample size is a concern so far this year, many of the reports of Navarro around the time of the 2007 draft and during his early minor league years reported that his flashy defense was what wowed scouts, but he also had another tool that occasionally flashed itself: power. From Baseball America in 2007:
"Righthanded-hitting shortstop (my note here: he is a switch hitter according to B-R) Reynaldo Navarro was the player to make the best impression last week in Puerto Rico. He was compared to Rey Ordonez for his easy, if flashy infield actions and skill with which he fields and throws.
"He swings the bat with some pop," the scout said. "He’s got some outer-half issues and he’s a little guy . . . but he has really performed well. He’s a high-energy guy."
That evaluation seemed to be lost in the shuffle as Navarro scuffled through the minors and his first season after his trade for the Royals. He was even moved off of Shortstop to make room for recently drafted (and also scuffling in the minors) Christian Colon. By some accounts, some of the Royals people were really impressed with Navarro this spring, and he has carried some offense with him into the season (his age 21 season) at High-A Wilmington.
Colon has struggled in the minors and may be re-joined by the man he displaced in Wilmington shortly.
In 276 PA in Wilmington (a notoriously tough place to hit), Navarro has hit .283/.335/.476, with only 36 strikeouts and 16 walks. He has 7 homers, 7 triples, and 14 doubles. Extrapolating those numbers out would make for a very impressive season seemingly coming out of nowhere. That hidden "pop" that scouts had raved about has suddenly and abruptly revealed itself, and it may make for a promotion for the young Navarro, to the much more hitting friendly Texas League and Arvest Ballpark in Northwest Arkansas.
Prior to this season, nwroyal had rated Navarro as the 47th rated prospect in a loaded Royals farm system. While some of the high end guys have been promoted and others have struggled or been injured, Navarro may have found his sea legs and start his move up the system. The only prospect type guys at his position are Colon, Giavotella, Bianchi, and long-term minor league guys like Irving Falu. However, I've noticed there still isn't that much buzz about Navarro, whether he's moving up some of these prospect rankings or what some of the reasons for his sudden and (to RR readers) mostly unexpected ability to hit and with power. Keep an eye out for Rey Navarro, as sometimes we still need to be reminded of some of the more hidden successes from the minor league system.
In other news, Carlos Rosa is now in Japan.
Rosa at one time was a highly-rated prospect in the Royals system and now merely serves as a reminder of how poor our minor league system WAS at the time Dayton Moore took over.