Naylor comfortable in first Padres camp

Traded during initial full season, slugger ready for future in San Diego

Josh Naylor compiled a .264/.302/.407 slash line across two Minor League levels last season. (San Diego Padres)

By Tyler Maun / | March 15, 2017 8:39 PM

PEORIA, Arizona -- Josh Naylor's 2016 was odd. And that description may be kind.

Drafted 12th overall by the Marlins on June 8, 2015, Naylor found himself in the headlines for a very different reason almost exactly one year later. Last June 5, the Marlins confirmed Naylor had accidentally cut Class A Greensboro teammate Stone Garrett with a knife in what the team described as a prank gone wrong at the pair's apartment. Miami suspended Naylor for a week.

Upon his return, Naylor focused on growing from the incident and showed good returns. The Ontario, Canada, native was selected to the World Team for the All-Star Futures Game and impressed during batting practice at Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres.

Less than three weeks later, Naylor was a Padre. San Diego traded for the 19-year-old as part of a seven-player swap with Miami. Now in camp in Arizona for the first time, Naylor is relishing his new experience.

"I'm having a great time with people I love to be around and the sport I love to play," the Padres' 15th-ranked prospect said Wednesday at the Peoria Sports Complex. 'It's not really a job when you're having this much fun. It's a great time and I'm just excited to get better every single day."

Between Greensboro and Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore, the 19-year-old first baseman batted .264/.302/.407 with 12 homers and 75 RBIs last year. Naylor said the transition to his new organization came quickly.

"It's still the same game," he said. "You've still got to compete to get to the big leagues, and that's the main goal, just have fun while you're on the field and compete your butt off, try to win every pitch, every at-bat."

After just one Spring Training in the Marlins organization, getting acclimated to Padres camp has been an easy adjustment, too.

"Different coaches are going to tell you different stuff," Naylor said. "There are obviously different rules for each organization, so you've just got to abide by everything, but it's been phenomenal since I've been here. I've got no complaints, and I'm so happy to be a Padre."

After Naylor played 89 games with Greensboro last year, San Diego challenged him with a promotion to Class A Advanced for his organizational debut. Naylor held his own in the California League as one of the league's youngest everyday players.

"Baseball's baseball," he said. "You've just got to have fun with it. You're going to face better competition when you go up in your life, so you've just got to be prepared and mentally ready for it. I was, and I had fun there. We're just going to see where the season takes us this year."

Questions regarding Naylor's maturity surfaced before the Draft and after the incident with Garrett, but in a conversation Wednesday, Padres director of player development Sam Geaney singled out Naylor as a natural leader in the system. The Mississauga native took Geaney's praise to heart.

"It means a lot to me, obviously," he said. "I thank everyone here so much for everything they've done for me and I just want to be the best leader I can on and off the field and guide the team to a championship, let's hope, one day. Depending on whatever level I'm at, I just want to help everyone get better every single day, even if it's not baseball things. If it's their life, I want to be there for them and know that I'm not just their teammate, I'm a good friend of theirs too."

After a wild offseason at the Major League level in 2014-15, the Padres have focused on rebuilding their Minor League side over the last year and a half. San Diego's farm has been reshaped into one of baseball's best. Youngsters like Anderson Espinoza,'s No. 25 overall prospect who was acquired in a trade like Naylor, Cal Quantrill (Draft) and Adrian Morejon (international signing) helped the Padres jump from No. 21 in's overall farm system rankings last year to No. 8 in 2017.

Naylor and his teammates hear the hype but are focused on what's happening in Peoria and little else.

"It's been good," he said. "I mean, we don't really look at the prospect stuff here. We're all a family and the goal here, I think we're all just trying to get better every single day and take championship reps when we're on the field like [Padres manager] Andy Green says and just try to be the best players we can day in and day out. We all have one goal and that's to get to the big leagues and help the big league team win."

Tyler Maun is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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