Left-handed pitching prospect, Chris Narveson, a five year minor league veteran, currently on the Cardinals 40 man roster, was optioned by the St. Louis Cardinals to AAA Memphis earlier this week.
A former top rated left handed pitching prospect, the 2000, second round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals was in camp with the major league club, rehabbing from a sore shoulder that cut short his season with Triple-A Memphis, last year.
The 24 year old, 6'3" 205 pound pitcher was most recently acquired off waivers from the Boston Red Sox last August and is expected to be in the Triple-A Memphis starting rotation by mid-season.
Narveson started his career with St. Louis after being selected in the 2000 June draft. In is first professional season he made 12 starts for the Johnson City Cardinals, finishing with a 2-4 record and a respectable ERA of 3.27.
The following year, the left-hander split the season between Peoria (A) and Potomac (A), finishing second among minor league starters with a 2.31 combined ERA. Chris had eight starts at Peoria before moving to Potomac where he was 4-3 with a very good, 2.57 ERA in 11 starts. It was at Potomac that Narveson began to have arm problems. He didn't pitch that season after July 18, due to a strained left elbow.
In 2002 Chris underwent reconstructive left elbow surgery in the off season and found himself back at Rookie-level Johnson City, appearing in six games before being recalled to Peoria.
Narveson was rated as the Cardinals' No. 3 prospect by Baseball America in 2003. It was this season that the young pitcher began appearing on every one's radar screen.
He continued to move up within the Cardinals' organization in 2003, beginning the year at class A-Advance Palm Beach and ending up at class Double-AA Tennessee. The young left-hander was selected to pitch in the Florida State League All-Star Game after going 7-7 with a 2.86 ERA in 14 starts and one relief appearance.
Narveson finished the year second among Cardinals minor leaguers with 11 wins and sixth in both innings pitched (148.1) and strikeouts (99). His combined ERA of 2.91 ranked him eighth in the Cardinals system.
In 2004 Narveson was one of the players to be named later in the trade to Colorado that brought Larry Walker to St. Louis.
The Rockies traded Narveson along with Charles Johnson and cash to the Boston Red Sox for Byung-Hyun Kim on March 30. He began the season with Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a record of 4-5 with a 4.77 ERA, allowing 109 hits, striking out 66 and walking 46 in 111-1/3 innings pitched.
The Cardinals claimed him off waivers from the Red Sox on August 8, when they tried to pass him through waivers. He made two starts for Triple-A Memphis before being shut down for the season on August 22, with a sore shoulder.
I caught up with Chris this week at the batting cages where he was working on bunting.
RM: "Chris, first good to see you back in a Cardinal uniform. How is your rehab coming along?"
CN: "I feel really great; I've never felt better and stronger."
RM: "Are you on any specific time table to return to the mound?"
CN: "Right now I am thinking I should be starting to throw batting practice by the end of spring training."
RM: "That's good, a little earlier than I was expecting."
CN: "Yes, my rehab is coming along very good."
RM: "Do you know when you might be ready to start pitching in games?"
CN: "Most likely I will be sent out on a rehab assignment to start the season."
RM: "Has anyone said for sure where you are going to be assigned?"
RM: "I guess it's possible that they could send you to Springfield on a rehab assignment; it's very close to St. Louis or you could stay here in Jupiter."
CN: "Yes either one is possible I've heard a lot of good things about Springfield, I don‘t know for sure."
RM: "I'll let you get back to practice Chris, its nice talking to you again. Good Luck."
Narveson is signed with St. Louis through this season and he looks like he could be back on the road to the majors after a few detours due to injuries.
The scouting report on Chris, Tall lefty possesses a low-90s fastball, as well mixing in an above-average curveball and changeup. Narveson was once considered a top-of-the-line prospect in St. Louis until he was sidelined after Tommy John Surgery for most of the 2002 season. Still has back of the rotation potential.
The Birdhouse Staff atwww.stlcardinals.scout.com recently ranked Narveson as the Cardinals 25th, top prospect. I'm expecting he'll move up in those rankings this season.