Naylor paces Missions with two more homers

No. 16 Padres prospect hits one out, races for inside-the-parker

San Antonio's Josh Naylor has hit as many home runs (five) as the rest of his teammates combined. (Lance Carter/MiLB.com)

By Michael Avallone / MiLB.com | April 13, 2018 1:18 AM

With one multi-homer game against Double-A Arkansas already under his belt, Josh Naylor figured a little variety was in order this time around.

San Diego's No. 16 prospect homered twice, including an inside-the-parker, on a three-hit night as San Antonio edged Arkansas, 3-2, in 10 innings Thursday at Nelson Wolff Stadium.

 


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Naylor, who leads the Minors with five long balls, has 12 RBIs and a .464 average through his first seven games. Coupled with his two-homer game on April 7, the Mississauga, Canada native has tallied four of his five jacks against Travelers pitchers. 

"That first one he hit was a lot of fun to watch," San Antonio hitting coach Raul Padron said. "He's a strong kid and he hit that ball off the wall pretty hard, which gave him the chance to run a bit. But that second homer? Wow, that was a laser. I'm no expert on those things, but I'd say it was about 120 [mph] off the bat." 

Having gone deep once already this season against Arkansas starter Chase De Jong, Naylor went the unconventional route for his fourth roundtripper. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds, the 20-year-old lined a shot into right field and raced around the bags to give the Missions a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. He grounded out in the fourth, singled to center in the sixth and tied the game with two-out solo shot to right in the eighth.

Video: Inside-the-parker for Josh Naylor

It marked the fifth multi-hit game of the season for Naylor and the third multi-home run game of his career. The Marlins' first-round pick in the 2015 Draft entered the season averaging a homer every 44.2 at-bats. He slugged 10 in 114 games last year between Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore and San Antonio, but Padron thinks his more advanced approach in 2017 has led to an early-season power surge this year. 

"Plate discipline," Padron explained. "He's ahead in the count more so he's seeing better pitches. That was one of the big things for him last year. He was more patient at the plate [increasing his walks to 43 from 25 in 2016]. Now he finds himself in more hitter's counts, whether its 2-1, 3-1 or 3-0. He didn't hit a lot of home runs last year, but being in those situations and counts now is helping him get pitches he can zone in on.

Video: Josh Naylor hits second homer of game

"One thing I want our guys to avoid is the homer-happy swing. Sometimes players get in these grooves with home runs and they go up there trying to hit them. But I don't see that with Josh. He's been swinging great all season and he's not going up there trying to hit the ball out. He's just trying to hit it hard. I would love all my players to do what he's doing right now." 

Naylor was dealt from the Marlins to the Padres in 2016. He spent the first half of last year in the California League, where he put together a .297/.361/.452 slash line with the Storm before his promotion to Double-A. Between the two levels, the lefty-swinging first baseman/outfielder batted .280/.346/.415 with 37 extra-base hits and 64 RBIs.

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"He had a great offseason," Padron said. "We had him down in San Diego and worked with him on using his legs to stay through the ball longer. That's been another big part of his success so far, coupled with laying off pitches and swinging at those in his zone. He's got a great swing. I won't say it's a launch-angle swing, but if he stays through it, he can create that type of impact. We tried to tell him that when you hit the ball, finish as high as you can to create that lift. He's definitely a good athlete and someone who learns quick. He's fun to watch."

River Stevens scored the winning run on a throwing error by shortstop Chris Mariscal in the 10th. Top Padres prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. chipped in two hits, including a double.

De Jong, the No. 21 Mariners prospect, allowed one run on five hits and a walk with three strikeouts in six innings. 

Miguel Diaz, Colby Blueberg, Matt Strahm, Brad Wieck and Rowan Wick (1-0) combined for 15 strikeouts for the Missions. 

Michael Avallone is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MavalloneMiLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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