Los Angeles Angels’ Efren Navarro – Stuck in Minor League Purgatory
If you look up and down the MLB.com Top 20 prospect list for the Los Angeles Angels organizations, or Keith Law’s top 10 organizational prospects for the Angels, you won’t find Efren Navarro‘s name on either list. But after you look at his stat line, you may ask yourself why is he not on those list.
Navarro was a 50th round (1,450th overall) selection by the Angels in the 2007 MLB Draft out of the University of Nevada-Reno. The 27-year old first baseman has been steadily moving up the levels of the Angels farm system, playing at least a full seasons at each stop. Now in his third season with the Salt Lake Bees, Triple-A affiliate of the Angels, Navarro finds himself in minor league purgatory.
His path to the majors is currently being blocked by future HOF, Albert Pujols, something I’m sure the Angels don’t mind and an argument Navarro would surely lose. Moreover, the Angels have a promising young first baseman in C.J. Cron, who you will find on both MLB.com and Keith Law’s lists mentioned above, and is crushing for the Angels’ Double-A affiliate, the Arkansas Travelers. Currently Cron is hitting .316, with 5 HR’s, 30 RBI’s, and a .842 OPS thru 49 games and 204 AB’s. He is also a former first round pick of the Angels from the 2011 MLB Draft. He is also 23 years old, making him 4 years younger than Navarro.
While Navarro remains in minor league purgatory, he nevertheless is making his case for a call-up to the big leagues. Currently with the Bees, Navarro is hitting .352 with 4 HR’s, 25 RBI’s, and a .918 OPS thru 49 games and 179 AB’s. He has a decent K/BB ratio at 34/26, and has an OBP of .432, a vast improvement from what he has shown in his two previous season at Triple-A, posting a .368 OPS in 2011 and a .336 OPS in 2012.
The one thing Navarro has proven he can do is hit. Entering his 7th season in the minors, he has a career .293 BA. Watching him tonight against the Sacramento River Cats and going against the organizations top pitching prospect in Sonny Gray, he went 2-4 with 2 singles. But what continues to plague Navarro and prevents him from advantaging to the majors on a skill-set level are his light power numbers. In six seasons in the minors, he has only hit double-digits in HR’s once, that being in his first year at Triple-A in 2011 when he hit 12. The following year in 2012, he hit 7 HR’s. That’s not exactly what you are looking for out of your power-hitting first baseman, but with Pujols starting to show signs of wearing down and Cron still a year or two away from making his case for a big league call-up, their just may be a small opening that gets Navarro out of minor league purgatory. For Navarro, I hope he gets that chance. But with age, light power-totals, and a hall-of-famer blocking his path; with all these working against him, it looks like Navarro will continue to remain in minor league purgatory for the foreseeable future.