Josh Naylor's explosive bat ignited plenty of excitement for the Missions the first week of the season.
His .472 batting average was impressive, but what created the most attention was the six home runs produced during that span. The 20-year-old first baseman-outfielder hit two in his stint with San Antonio last year. However, he equaled that amount by pounding two two-run homers in a 6-2 win over Arkansas in the first game of a doubleheader, which was also happened to be just the second game of the season.
He slugged one against Northwest Arkansas and added three more against Arkansas at Wolff Stadium, two coming in the home opener on April 12 with the first being an inside-the-parker.
During that span, the Mississauga, ON, Canada native led Minor League Baseball in homers and total bases, while tying for the lead in hits.
Because of those heroics, Naylor was named Texas League Player of the Week for the first week of the season.
Although it was a booming start to the season, Naylor, San Diego's No. 14 prospect, keeps it in perspective. After all, flashy statistics is not his priority. Winning is the main focus.
Much to his delight, wins are coming with the Missions, who enter Tuesday with a league-best 25-12 record and a four-game lead over Corpus Christi in the South Division.
"I am just trying to help the team win and be the best player I can be," said Naylor, who is batting .357 with eight home runs and a Texas League-leading 34 RBI. "I am working on everything in my game. The main focus is on winning."
Naylor's winning attitude was instilled long before a professional baseball career began. Coming from a family highly-involved in athletics, the Miami Marlins 2015 No. 1 draft pick, strived to be the best, whether he was playing baseball, hockey or volleyball. Taking that approach at an early age has paved the way for success on a bigger stage.
Naylor gave a demonstration of his drive for success when joining the Missions a year ago. He received a promotion late in the season after batting .297 with eight home runs and 45 RBI at Single-A Lake Elsinore.
When Naylor arrived, he fit in nicely, helping San Antonio to the second half title while sporting a .250 average and knocking in 19 runs in 42 games.
This year, the contributions are coming more regularly. Looking back, that time in Double-A last season has made things go much smoother in 2018.
"The pitching is always good," Naylor said. "Every level I go I have faced someone a little better. You have to be better. Being here is helping my game. But baseball is baseball. You have to keep getting better wherever you go."
While the offensive output stands out, Naylor's defensive work hasn't gone noticed. First base is his No. 1 position, but he's also making the grade in left field.
Naylor has been on the A-list since day one. Following a banner career at St. Joan of Arc High School, Naylor was headed to Texas Tech to play baseball. That all changed when the Marlins made him their top pick.
Although that big day happened three years ago, hearing his number called still brings a smile to his face.
"It was an incredible day," Naylor said. "I thank God for that. It was so special. I thought of my family and the coaches who helped me growing up. All thanks to them. It is a day I will never forget. I wish all players could experience that thrill of having their names called."
Despite being the Marlins' No. 2 prospect, Naylor was traded to the Padres in 2016 in a seven-player deal. Leaving the team that drafted him brought mixed emotions. After all, he developed quite a few relationships through the organization.
At the same time, being a member of the Padres' organization has brought even more enthusiasm for the future. The Padres' minor league system ranks No. 1 in Major League Baseball and Naylor is happy to be part of it.
"Coming here was incredible," Naylor said. "This is a great organization. I am blessed to be here and be part of it. I like the culture. I like how they're helping us. This where we start to develop as players and it is awesome.
"The trade was a good opportunity for me. I've already created a lot of friendships and it is great to see what we're doing. The Padres are trying to become a champion and that is exciting. They preach a lot about being good teammates and helping others. They're helping us find ways to win ballgames. Everyone wants to be here. You have to keep working and wait for your time to come."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.