Minor leagues: Efren Navarro wields mean glove, but Bees lose
Published: September 2, 2012 07:47PM
Updated: December 25, 2012 11:30PM

Efren Navarro took a step to the left and robbed what should have been a double down the right-field line. He made the play look ridiculously easy.

The play was just one more piece of evidence that makes the Salt Lake Bee the PCL’s best fielding first baseman — and it is not even close.

Whether measured anecdotally or with statistics, it is difficult to come up with any other conclusion.

Entering Sunday’s game, a 6-1 Sacramento victory at Spring Mobile Ballpark, the stylish glove man had committed just four errors in nearly 1,300 chances.

“The only guy I’ve been around that’s either as good or better, is Casey Kotchman,” Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson said, referring to the former Bee and major league record holder for consecutive chances without an error. “That’s pretty good company. A lot of people can look at his game and take it for granted, but I guarantee you the rest of his infielders and pitchers don’t.”

It is only one more miscue than Navarro committed in all of 2011, a year that ended with the 26-year-old winning a Rawlings Gold Glove as the best fielding first baseman in the minor leagues.

Also on Sunday, Navarro earned another Bees’ milestone. It was the former 50th-round draft pick’s 140th game played at first this season — which breaks the mark set by Mark Trumbo in 2010.

With all of his accomplishments, the durable Navarro is caught in a numbers crunch. The Los Angeles Angels are awash in first basemen, including one of the best of all time in Albert Pujols, as well as Kendrys Morales and Trumbo.

And the three have something that Navarro has yet to show — power. He has gone deep just seven times this season, which comes up short in what is perceived as a power position.

All of which makes this offseason an interesting one. Navarro is out of a contact after the season ends and plans on playing Winter League Baseball for Santiago in the Dominican Republic.

Pioneer League

Raptors 6-7, Owlz 0-3 • Lindsey Caughel threw a complete-game shutout for host Ogden in Game 1, and Kevin Thompson had two hits and three RBIs in the nightcap to help complete the doubleheader sweep of Orem.

Storylines River Cats 6, Bees 1

R Salt Lake starter Brad Mills allows just three hits and two earned runs in seven innings.

• Sacramento hitters go deep three times, including twice in the River Cats’ three-run eighth inning.