Oswaldo Navarro: Past and Present Assessments of the newest Astro

Going back and researching a minor league player like Oswaldo Navarro leaves you with a certain sadness. At this point Navarro is probably giddy at the thought of joining a major league team, especially one where he is sure to see some playing time. I doubt the Astros organization has prepared Navarro for the call up, and it's not as if he is the next big thing on the farm and expecting a promotion at any time. On the contrary, Navarro has already been jettisoned from the Seattle Mariners' organization and is trying to make a go of things with the Astros this time around.

How successful he can be at the major league level is up for debate, though at this point the best we can probably hope for is production which is better than Tommy Manzella. Baseball Prospectus has Navarro as a respectable .275/.370/.463 hitter at this moment in the majors, as translated from his .312/.418/.506 line from Round Rock. We can expect to see some degree of fall off from that line, as Ozzie's career OPS of .649 indicates that not only is he playing a ways above his true ability, but he is playing at a unsustainable level even for AAA. Eight of his 24 minor league hits have gone for extra bases, and his walk rate is a not too shabby 13%. Bottom line: Ed Wade didn't have much to choose from, but at least with Navarro we have reason to be somewhat optimistic.

So how did Navarro make it to the Astros' organization? He is a 25 year old who the Mariners plucked from Venezuela in 2001. He never amounted to any sort of high graded prospect, but in 2005, Dave Cameron, touted Navarro's defensive abilities as being above par. Baseball Analysts seconded the scouting report of Cameron, as Navarro was a highly touted defensive shortstop during the 2006 season. As the article notes, the men on that list of glove minded shortstops were in the mold of future utility infielders, though only Ramiro Pena (Yankees) has been successful in that role with a major league team.

As Ed Wade acknowledged in his recent comments to the media, Navarro has a healthy minor league career under his belt but is just 25 years old and offers a greater degree of flexibility on the roster than did Matsui. It looks as if Jeff Keppinger is going to continue to get the lion's share of time at second base, with Manzella and Navarro most likely sharing time at shortstop. Wade has hinted that even more changes could be on the way which in reality won't boost our W-L %, but could stand to purge the roster of under-performing talent in favor of young options from the farm. At the quarter-season pole, the Astros' biggest issue is lack of production from the 3-4-5 hitters and unfortunately there is nobody in the minors who can help in that regard.

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