One of the most underrated players in Major League Baseball this year, Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava has been a key component to the team’s early season success. He has impressed everyone by consistently playing well every opportunity he gets in the majors, but what may be more impressive is where he had to come from in order to get the opportunity to play in the major leagues.
Nava was born in California and attended Santa Clara University. He failed to make the baseball team there as a walk-on, and ended up being the equipment manager for the team for two years. He eventually left and enrolled in the College of San Mateo, where he did make the team and became a Junior College All-American. After receiving a full scholarship from Santa Clara, Nava led the West Coast Conference in batting average and on base percentage his senior season.
Despite his recent college success, Nava went undrafted after graduating college. He signed with the Golden League’s Chico Outlaws but was cut after one tryout. He eventually rejoined the Outlaws and hit .341 with 10 home runs an 59 RBIs. Nava then joined the Red Sox organization in 2008, starting out in Single-A Lancaster. He quickly worked his way up through the minors, and was called up to the Red Sox in June 2010 after having spent just two months in Triple-A. Nava made history in his first at bat with the Red Sox, becoming the second player in MLB history to hit a grand slam on the first pitch of his major league career. Nava would reach base safely in his first 13 career games. Soon after he was sent back down to the minor leagues to make room for players returning from the DL. He would be removed from the Red Sox roster in 2011, and pass through waivers unclaimed. He was not invited to training camp in 2012.
Despite all of this, Nava is finally getting consistent playing time with the Red Sox in 2013. He has taken advantage of every single opportunity that’s been given to him, and it is finally paying off. He is batting .302 with 8 home runs and 39 RBIs this season for the Red Sox, and ranks among the top five switch hitters in all of baseball. It is truly remarkable what Nava has accomplished going from equipment manager on his college team to starting for the Red Sox. He never gave up, and his perseverance has paid off for the Red Sox in a big way.
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