From the Archives of MVP Sports Talk
Daniel Nava, the 27 year old from Redwood City, California and rookie Left Fielder for the Boston Red Sox has had a long and winding path on his way to the bigs. Here is his amazing and inspiring story. Daniel was always a small kid, especially during high school. He was only 4'8 70 lbs during his freshman year and by the time he was a senior he had only grown to 5'5 but had gained 80 pounds, increasing to 150 lbs, a little bit over the average weight for his size.
When he got out of high school he decided to attend Santa Clara University where he tried to walk on and was denied a spot on their baseball squad. He proceeded to be the manager of the team during his freshman and sophomore years before the cost of tuition caused him to transfer to the College of San Mateo, a junior college in San Mateo, California. During his first year there he saw an old friend that encouraged him to try out for the team. He did, made it, and by the end of the season he had performed so well that he was named a Junior College All- American. Santa Clara University, the same school that rejected his services just three years before, was so impressed with Nava's performance that they offered him a full scholarship to attend their school for a second time. In the one season he played at Santa Clara he performed well enough to show that he lived up to the scholarship he received batting around a .400 clip and with an On Base Percentage just a smidgen below .500 while earning First Team All- West Coast Conference honors. He also stole 15 bases without getting caught once and showed patience at the plate as he drew walks more often than he was put down on strikes.
After Nava graduated from Santa Clara he was undrafted and decided to sign with the Chico Outlaws of the Golden Baseball League, and Independent League. (A league with teams that have no affiliation to Major League Clubs) Like with Santa Clara, the Outlaws rejected Daniel on his try with the team but brought him in a year later when a spot opened up. The move paid its dividends for the Outlaws because in 2007 Nava smashed 12 round trippers while having an outstanding batting average of .371 and a Ruth like OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) of 1.100. Following this amazing campaign Baseball America named him the number one prospect in the Independent Leagues.
The Red Sox, with the urging of their assistant director of pro scouting, Jared Porter, bought out the contract of Nava for only $1. Of course the total of the deal would add up to $1,500 if the Red Sox didn't release Nava right after spring training. As it turned out, that move was a huge bargain for the BoSox who sent him to Low A Lancaster after spring was over. At Lancaster, Nava continued his surprising run to the top batting .341, slugging 10 homers, and driving in 59 in only 85 games. His performance earned him a call up to High A Salem where he continued to dominate batting .339 before another call. This time he was sent to AA Portland where he played 32 games, batted .364 with 4 homers and an amazing 25-12 BB/K ratio earning the Red Sox Minor League Player of the Month for August/September.
Nava began 2010 with AAA Pawtucket and was there for about 2 months before an array of injuries left the Sox outfield depleted. The man who said he could hardly lift a 32 ounce bat just 10 years ago was now on his way to play in the same uniform and in the same position as Red Sox Legends Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice. He finally got his chance on June 12, 2010 where he debuted as a starter in Left Field against the Philadelphia Phillies. The first pitch he ever saw in the Majors was while the bases were loaded and he abruptly cleared them. The man that couldn't even make his college team had just hit a grand slam on the first pitch he ever saw in the bigs becoming the second player to ever do so. He also became the only player to hit a grand slam on the first pitch he ever saw in the majors while in interleague play. He continued to after his hot start reaching base safely in each of his first 13 games. Currently through 26 games Nava is hitting .294 with 10 doubles.
In Hollywood this story would end with Nava going on to make the MLB Hall of Fame but this is reality, not Hollywood and when the regulars return from their injuries unless one of them has a major drop off this is probably the last we hear of Daniel Nava in a Sox uniform. In this past month he has taken us on a wild ride and hopefully he will have another chance to play regularly because as he enters the prime of his career he has shown potential to be a breakout player in the Majors for years to come.
In short, this amazing young man persevered after he was cut from his college team, went undrafted, and had his independent league contract bought out for a mere $1 is playing solid ball on the game's highest stage for one of the most prolific teams in all of baseball.
-Andrew F check out my blog at http://mvpsportstalk.tk/