While the big league ballclub struggles to find their traction, many of the top San Diego Padres prospects are off to prominent starts down on the farm.
Josh Naylor, the 15th ranked prospect in the San Diego Padres system, began this season with a number of questions surrounding his future with the team. The signing of Eric Hosmer immediately led a number of fans to begin throwing Naylor’s name around in various trade scenarios.
Now, nearly one month into the MiLB season, the organization is experimenting with Naylor to increase his versatility and sticking potential with the team. The 20-year-old out of Ontario, Canada is being used in left field with the San Antonio Missions (Double-A affiliate), which has been met with rocky results, initially.
Learning a new position hasn’t slowed down Naylor at the plate. As of Saturday morning, Naylor leads the Texas League in hits (31), home runs (7), runs driven in (19), total bases (58), slugging percentage (.707), and OPS (1.166). His .376 batting average is good for third in the league.
Naylor appears to have finally tapped into his power potential after hitting 23 home runs in his first 261 minor league games. Of course, we all knew he possessed plus-power, it’s his patience at the plate and pitch selection that’s opening eyes.
He’s never been a significantly high strikeout guy, sitting at around 15-16% over the last two seasons. This season, Naylor is striking out in just 9% of his at-bats while drawing a walk in 13.5% of his trips to the plate.
Even when Naylor falls behind in the count, he’s hitting the ball well. He’s posting a .375 batting average when getting behind.
The ride Naylor is on will slow down, at some point. However, he’s showing the Padres that he can still provide value even with Hosmer blocking his path at first base.
With fellow top prospect Fernando Tatis, Jr starting to find his stroke, this San Antonio team is extremely exciting to watch. Naylor is currently riding a streak of four straight multi-hit games and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Whether he’s competing for a job in the Padres’ outfield next season or being packaged in a trade deal, Naylor provides a lot of value to this organization.