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MWL notes: Naylor grows behind the plate

No. 5 Indians prospect follows in pro footsteps of older brother
A 2018 first-rounder, Bo Naylor has eight home runs and 45 RBIs for the Class A Captains. (Freek Bouw/Phrake Photography)
August 1, 2019

Neighbors of the Naylor family in Mississauga, Ontario, didn't need to sit in front of a television set to see fierce athletic competition. All they had to do was look out the window.Bruises and scrapes were a frequent part of growing up for Bo Naylor, a first-round selection of the

Neighbors of the Naylor family in Mississauga, Ontario, didn't need to sit in front of a television set to see fierce athletic competition. All they had to do was look out the window.
Bruises and scrapes were a frequent part of growing up for Bo Naylor, a first-round selection of the Indians in the 2018 Draft, and his older brother, Josh Naylor, a first-round selection of the Padres in the 2015.

"Driveway hockey, driveway basketball, video games … every game we play is intense," Naylor said of the competitiveness between himself and his older brother. "The hockey sticks got thrown down a few times, but then we'd get back out there and play again."
Naylor, a six-foot, 195-pound 19-year old is playing his first full season with Class A Lake County. The left-handed hitting catcher is hitting .236 with eight home runs and 45 RBIs for the Captains this season.
"We're a very competitive family," said Naylor, whose 13-year-old brother, Myles, is considered a top amateur baseball prospect. "We're 100 percent competitive. A lot of people can vouch for that. In times when we need each other, we're also very cooperative. We're there to support each other. Having that balance really helped us understand who we are as people and players."
His older brother guided Naylor through the pre-Draft process and helped prepare him for the grind of pro baseball.
"My brother helped me, 100 percent. Having him be part of my journey … I'm so grateful for everything that he's done for me," Naylor said. "He provides me with a lot of insight. I can always go to him with questions that I have, how to go about the game. I talk to him about his thought processes. It really helps me understand what I can do to better myself as a player. He helps me be the best person and player in and out of the game that I can be.

"He makes a point of telling me to have fun with the game, because if it's not fun for you, what is the point? Ultimately, it is a grind, but as long as you're having fun in the process and are grateful for the opportunities and the accomplishments, it's all going to be worth it."
Naylor likely could have carved out a career in hockey but focused on baseball at age 15. Hockey honed his toughness, a trait that serves him well as a catcher. It also strengthened his resolve.
"Hockey helped my mentality," Naylor said. "It really helped me get to this point. It taught me to be determined and be the best that I can possibly be. It helped with my body conditioning, and a lot of other things. Hockey has played a big role in helping me develop mental and physical skills that have now helped me in baseball.

"I try to be a guy who my teammates can look to as someone they can trust for support, and help contribute to the game. Growing up in hockey, I was in the center position. That takes a lot of responsibility, the same as catching in baseball. In both positions, you have to be there for the guys around you."
Naylor appreciates the complex nature of baseball and blends an eagerness for learning with his physical talents.
"It helps that Bo is really athletic," said Lake County manager Luke Carlin, who was a catcher for the Padres, D-backs and Indians. "That's a huge advantage for him. I think you'll see some guys, especially at the Major League level … it becomes more tactical, more cerebral. The body is not there as much. To catch a full season and still produce offensively is a challenge that I don't know if anybody has found the answer to. I think some guys do a better job than others. Hopefully, we're providing enough resources for them to do that.
"Bo is ahead of his age from a maturity standpoint. Obviously, he's very intelligent. Most catchers have to be. Everything, psychologically, would say that he's ahead of where other 18- or 19-year-olds would be. The best thing about Bo on the mental side is that the game doesn't speed up on him. He's very laid back. He's good at distancing himself from results to process."
Carlin is impressed with Naylor's progress as a catcher.
"Bo is doing a very good job of receiving, blocking has been great, throwing a high percentage of runners out," Carlin said. "There's room to improve. One of the biggest learning opportunities is getting behind and reading swings and working with pitchers, communicating with them and executing a plan that's in place and being able to adjust and deviate from that plan based on what you see and all of those finer things that go with learning the game."

In brief

Record pace: Bowling Green's Chris Betts hammered his 17th homer of the season, putting him one long ball short of the Midwest League lead for home runs. Will Benson hit 18 with Lake County before being promoted to Lynchburg. Betts is five homers shy of tying the Bowling Green franchise record for homers -- 22 -- set by Derek Dietrich in 2011.
Right direction: Spencer Steer of Cedar Rapids, a third-round pick by the Minnesota Twins in the 2019 Draft, is blistering Midwest League pitching. Steer has played in 11 games and has a .372 batting average (16-of-43). He hit .325 in 20 games with Elizabethtown before getting promoted to Cedar Rapids.
Zero count: Quad Cities pitchers recorded their 17th shutout of the season when Brett Daniels and Garrett Gayle teamed up to handcuff Peoria, 3-0. The River Bandits are tied for the most shutouts in all of Minor League Baseball.
Personnel shuffle: Kameron Misner, the 35th overall pick of this year's Draft, has been promoted from the GCL Marlins to the Clinton LumberKings roster. Misner takes the roster spot of 2018 first-round pick Connor Scott, who was promoted to Jupiter. Scott leaves after putting together a 16-game hitting streak. Scott rallied from a .193 batting average in mid-May and ended up with a .251 batting average at Clinton. He led Clinton with 95 hits and 21 stolen bases at the time of his promotion.

Curt Rallo is a contributor to