February 9 – Happy Birthday Dioner Navarro

dioner-navarroAll the hopeful comments I read and hear about the Yankee’s top catching prospect, Gary Sanchez, remind me of the similar hype surrounding today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant back at the turn of this century. The Yankees signed Dioner Navarro as an amateur free agent in 2000 and three seasons later this native Venezuelan hit .341 for double-A Trenton and was named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year. Only 19-years-old at the time, he was being groomed as the eventual replacement for Jorge Posada. He got Yankee fans really excited when New York brought him up to the parent club in September of 2004 and the kid hit .429 in the seven games in which he got a chance to play.

Just a few weeks later, the Yankees suffered their famous collapse against Boston in the 2004 ALCS and New York’s front office went into a panic mode for a pitching ace. They settled on Randy Johnson but it cost them Navarro. Arizona then turned right around and traded their new acquisition to the Dodgers in a deal for Shawn Greene. He was given a shot to battle Russell Martin for the Los Angeles starting catcher’s job but he broke his wrist. The Dodgers ended up dealing him to Tampa Bay the following season and he started for the Rays behind the plate from 2007 until 2010, when he lost his job to John Jaso. Navarro’s best season was 2008 when he averaged .297 and made the AL All Star team. He turns just 29-years-old today and spent the 2012 season as a backup catcher for the Reds.

After the Yankees traded Navarro, they signed another teen-aged native-Venezuelan catching prospect to take his place as Posada’s heir apparent. The new kid’s name was Jesus Montero. He too gave Yankee fans something to get excited about in a late season call-up a couple seasons ago and then got traded to Seattle. Perhaps now you understand why I refuse to get too excited about Gary Sanchez.

Dioner shares his birthday with this one-time Yankee second base prospect, this great former Yankee third baseman and with this not-so-great-one too.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2004 NYY 5 7 7 2 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .429 .429 .429 .857
10 Yrs 715 2505 2251 239 565 100 4 54 243 10 193 342 .251 .313 .371 .684
TBR (5 yrs) 458 1672 1508 161 367 73 2 29 157 9 117 220 .243 .300 .352 .652
LAD (3 yrs) 139 487 427 39 103 17 1 10 39 1 51 74 .241 .325 .356 .681
CHC (1 yr) 89 266 240 31 72 7 0 13 34 0 23 36 .300 .365 .492 .856
CIN (1 yr) 24 73 69 6 20 3 1 2 12 0 2 12 .290 .306 .449 .755
NYY (1 yr) 5 7 7 2 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 .429 .429 .429 .857
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/22/2014.

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