2006 Ranking: 25
School: T. C. Roberson High School (Asheville, NC)
Cardinal: Claimed off waivers from the Boston Red Sox on August 8, 2005. 2006 G W-L IP H BB K ERA WHIP
Jason Scott (5): Narveson rose considerably in all of our rankings this year, jumping from No. 26 to No. 5 in my rankings, due to a very good 2006 season. He came back very well after undergoing labrum surgery over the offseason, going 8-5 with a 2.69 ERA in 97 innings and holding opponents to a .223 batting average between Palm Beach and Memphis before earning a promotion to St. Louis in September. It has been reported that Narveson is not really being considered for a spot in the Cardinals rotation in 2007, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him on the team when they open the season.
Leonda Markee (5): Chris Narveson is my third-ranked pitching prospect this season. I ranked him at this level due to the combination of performance, the level at which he mainly pitched and ability to assist the big club in the near-term. Narveson returned to the Cardinals' organization in August 2005 after the Cardinals claimed off waivers from the Boston Red Sox. He was originally the key piece in the August 2004 trade for Larry Walker and subsequently traded to Boston for Kyung-Hyun Kim.
Narveson started 2006 rehabbing from off-season labrum surgery and began at High-A Palm Beach. After only three starts he was called up to Triple-A Memphis on June 12th where he spent the rest of the minor league season. Narveson was called up to St. Louis on September 5th where he appeared in five games, including one start.
Narveson features a fastball in the 88-92 mph range and a plus curve. He also throws a slider and a changeup. Narveson also has the wonderful added benefit of being left-handed. On the down side, Narveson has battled injuries, including Tommy John and the aforementioned labrum surgeries. His situation is complicated by the fact that he is out of options so must clear waivers if he does not make the Cardinals' 25-man roster this spring. Despite Tony La Russa's off-season comments that appear to give Narveson very little chance of making either the Cardinals' rotation or bullpen, I expect Narveson to be very much in the mix for a slot in the bullpen. Otherwise, look for him to be part of yet another trade package.
Ray Mileur (6): The Cardinals are looking for starting pitching and left-hander Chris Narveson will have an outside shot at securing a spot in the rotation out of spring training. The tall lefty possesses a low-90s fastball, as well as 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 he has back of the rotation potential.
In 2004 Narveson was one of the players to be named later in the trade to Colorado that brought Larry Walker to St. Louis. He returned to the Cardinals in 2005 when St. Louis claimed him off waivers from the Red Sox when they tried to pass him through waivers in August. He made two starts for Triple-A Memphis before being shut down for the season on August 22, with a sore shoulder that eventually led to surgery.
Narveson began last season in extended spring training rehabbing after undergoing labrum surgery over the off season. He was activated and sent to Palm Beach on a rehab assignment in late May. After just three starts the Cardinals sent Narveson to Triple-A Memphis. He went on to make 15 starts, going 8-5 with a 2.81 ERA.
You can expect Narveson to begin the season at Triple-A Memphis if he isn't able to win a job in the Cardinals rotation out of Spring Training.
Brian Walton (16): On the positive side, lefties are said to be notoriously late bloomers. Narveson is 25 years old, so not over the hill by any means. On the other hand, he has already been traded twice and waived once. Whether that was due to in part to the injuries noted above or simply being in demand and available, it still doesn't send overly-positive vibes to me.
This winter, the Cardinals continue to say little to nothing encouraging about Narveson's chances in St. Louis for 2007, despite the apparent dearth of quality, proven starters. Why is that?
Realistically, I think in Anthony Reyes and Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals already have all the inexperience in their rotation they can stomach. The mere presence of those two would seem to increase the odds against Narveson getting a chance to crack the 2007 rotation in Spring Training.
Probably the best Narveson can hope for is to leapfrog or outlast at least half of the four lefties in front of him and somehow make the back of the Opening Day bullpen. That way, he could log some additional major league experience in a low-risk setting.
Otherwise, Narveson will either have to be traded or again exposed to waivers by the end of March. Given his 2006 success and left-handedness, slipping through waivers seems unlikely.
Still, when all is said and done, I am not convinced Narveson's ceiling is as high as the others here, hence my #16 ranking.
STAFF COMMENTS KEY: Staff Member (Individual Ranking), NR = Not Rated
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