PCL notes: Naylor shows off glove on way up

Comfortable in El Paso outfield, slugger earns jump to San Diego

Josh Naylor swatted 50 home runs over 434 Minor League games before his big league debut. (David Calvert/Reno Aces)

By Chris Jackson / Special to MLB.com | May 28, 2019 10:00 AM

The bat was not holding back San Diego Padres ninth-ranked prospect Josh Naylor.

In the end, the glove did not hold him back, either, as the first baseman-turned-left fielder was recalled by the Padres on Friday.

Though he did not have to prove his defensive worth the prior week, Naylor still had a highlight-reel catch in a series finale in Albuquerque on May 20. With one out in the ninth inning of what would be a 21-10 win for the El Paso Chihuahuas, former big-league catcher Drew Butera hit a long fly ball into the gap in left-center.

Naylor raced back and, even with the wall looming, leaped up to make the catch while slamming into an advertisement for a local Ford dealer, holding onto the ball and robbing Butera of extra bases.

Video: Padres' Naylor leaps for catch

For the Canadian slugger, the entire process of shifting positions has been no big deal, or so he said.

"It's good. I'm just trying to get better out there every day," Naylor said.

That does not mean Naylor took to the position overnight.

"It's not easy," he said. "I've heard it's the hardest in the outfield, but if you put work in, you can accomplish anything. I'm just trying to get work in daily, get my reps in, get tips from whoever and wherever. Just take it easy out there and don't try too much. I think I'm getting better out there daily."

Naylor was a first-round Draft pick of the Miami Marlins in 2015. He was acquired by the Padres one year later in a seven-player trade that sent veteran right-hander Andrew Cashner to Miami and brought Naylor and three other young players back to San Diego. Three years after the deal, Naylor is the only one still under contract with the Padres.

He had moved to left field midway through last season at Double-A, largely due to the presence of Eric Hosmer, and his long-term contract, at first base in San Diego.

This season marked his first stint at Triple-A and he made it look easy at the plate with El Paso, batting .299/.378/.538 with 10 home runs in 45 games.

The Pacific Coast League can be a hitter's paradise, but its spacious ballparks can also be an added challenge for any outfielder. Naylor managed to overcome that challenge to earn his way to the Majors.

"Obviously the elements are going to be different each day [in the PCL] and you have to adjust to it and just make do with what you can up there," he said. "Just ask for help when you need it."

In brief

Top of the 'Topes: Albuquerque Isotopes center fielder Yonathan Daza did not let a rough 0-for-11 Major League debut earlier this season dent his confidence. The Rockies' No. 14 prospect is hitting .366/.403/.576 in 38 games, with 15 doubles and five home runs.

Aviator ascending: Oakland Athletics No. 8 prospect Jorge Mateo had a horrible season at Triple-A in 2018, batting .230/.280/.353 and striking out 139 times in 470 at-bats. A switch in affiliates has benefited the shortstop, who is now batting .324/.362/.549 with six homers and 39 RBIs with the Las Vegas Aviators.

Back on the mound: Los Angeles Dodgers No. 4 prospect Tony Gonsolin made his first appearance since April 13 on Sunday, tossing a scoreless inning for Oklahoma City. The right-hander had allowed just three runs on five hits and five walks over nine innings in his first two starts of the season in April, striking out 12 batters.

Chris Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More