San Bernardino, California —— At the top of this post, watch one of our scouting videos of San Diego Padres top first base prospect Josh Naylor batting for the Lake Elsinore Storm in a High-A California League series in April 2017 against the Inland Empire 66ers at San Bernardino’s San Manuel Stadium. To visit Josh Naylor’s player page, please click here, and subscribe to the Baseball Census YouTube channel here for hundreds more videos like this one.
Josh Naylor scouting report notes
Josh Naylor was announced as the California League’s Player of the Month for April earlier this week after leading the league in RBI, extra base hits, and total bases, and even though he’s temporarily landed on the disabled list—it was a let-down not to see him play in any of this weekend’s four-game series in Modesto—it looks like the teenager is figuring out High-A in his second go-round with the Lake Elsinore Storm in 2017.
Naylor looks to be in a bit better shape this year compared to last year, but his body type and weight will probably always be a concern much in the same way that New York Mets prospect Dominic Smith will always have to fight that physical battle. Naylor has slimmed down somewhat early in 2017, though, and his early results have benefitted. The more-trim figure will help him at first base more so than the plate, where he’s a functional defender with soft hands and a good feel for moving around the bag. His arm is fine, too, but he has no foot-speed, and while that matters not at first base itself, it’ll keep him there permanently because there are very few other places you could put him on defense. To play first base for an entire career, then, one must hit.
He’s done that quite a bit early this year with a .306/.358/.531/.889 slash line through his first 23 games, with five doubles and five more home runs in 98 at-bats before his trip to the disabled list. Naylor is taller in his stance this year than in 2016 (video of this year vs. last year below), and that difference in set-up is helping bring out the power in his long, beautiful stroke. His bat speed has improved a tick, too, and he looks more athletic at the plate in 2017 than he did during a difficult second half of 2016 after he was traded over to the San Diego Padres from the Miami Marlins in the Andrew Cashner deal.
As has always been the case for Josh Naylor, his plate coverage is good and he’s content in his approach to go the other way when he’s pitched that way. And yet it seems he’s finally starting to work a deep count and wait for a pitch to drive rather than just being content with slapping an opposite-field single on the first low-and-away strike he sees. His power numbers should continue to grow as he adds that patience to his approach, and it’s a good sign for his long-term future in much the same way that it’s starting to come together for the Los Angeles Angels‘ well-regarded first base prospect Matt Thaiss.
All that said about deep counts, though, Naylor must improve his ability to draw a walk. His contact skills are good, and his strikeout totals aren’t concerning for his role, but he’s going to get pitched around a lot during his career and it’s important that he starts to be content enough to take those at-bats and the free bases therein. That’ll come with age, you’d imagine, but Naylor will always be trying to do it against older, far more advanced pitchers, and so his on-base skills may be a long time in coming.
Having said that, let’s recalibrate: Josh Naylor is still just 19 years old. When Luis Urias came through Lake Elsinore as a teenager last year he was a phenom, and for good measure—very few teenagers can hang in High-A. Naylor is doing the same thing now, and another good month or two after he gets off the disabled list might push him to Double-A for the second half of the summer. That’d be an aggressive move by the San Diego Padres for his age, but if Josh Naylor has another long sting as solid as April, there won’t be much more for him to prove here in the California League.
To visit Josh Naylor’s player page, please click here.
Josh Naylor scouting report: 140 characters or less
An advanced hitter, Josh Naylor stands taller at the plate in 2017 and has made adjustments that’ll soon bring out above-average raw power.
Josh Naylor scouting report video
Here’s a look at our most recent Josh Naylor baseball video, taken during a series for the Storm in mid-April:
Compare that to how Josh Naylor looked last year — same team, same league, same level — when he came over to the Lake Elsinore Storm after a trade between the Padres and the Miami Marlins:
As you can see, he’s taller at the plate this year than last year, and slightly less spread out and flat-footed in his stance and stride. The combination of both those things should allow him to activate his hips a little bit more and in turn, bring out the above-average raw power in his bat. Last year’s Josh Naylor scouting report had him struggling a bit in High-A as he found his footing with the San Diego Padres, but it appears he’s sure on the way in 2017.
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Josh Naylor scouting report GIFs
In addition to our video clips, we broke out some Josh Naylor baseball GIFs for a deeper look at his mechanics, etc.:
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In this San Diego Padres / Josh Naylor baseball scouting report: