Josh Naylor

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Joshua-Douglas James Naylor

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Biographical Information[edit]

First baseman Josh Naylor was selected by the Miami Marlins in the first round of the 2015 amateur draft with the 12th overall pick. He made his pro debut that summer with the GCL Marlins, hitting .327 in 25 games. He had hit .484/.556/.903 for Canada in the 2015 U-18 Baseball World Cup and was named the All-Star first baseman.

He has a reputation as someone who likes playing practical jokes and pranks, but that proved costly in June of 2016 when he injured teammate and fellow prospect Stone Garrett in a prank that involved a knife. While full details were not released by the Marlins, the end result was that Garrett had to have stitches and suffered nerve damage in his thumb requiring surgery. Naylor was suspended for one game for his role in the affair. On the field, he was selected to play in the 2016 Futures Game as part of the World team, the on July 29th, he was traded to the San Diego Padres as part of a seven-played blockbuster deal that brought starting pitchers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to Miami.

He was a member of the Canadian national team for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, although he saw little action with Freddie Freeman starting at first base and Justin Morneau playing DH. He returned to the Futures Game in 2017, again as a member of the World team. In 2018, the Padres switched him from first base to the outfield after signing Eric Hosmer to a long-term free agent contract, locking up the position for the foreseeable future. He played 128 games for the San Antonio Missions of the AA Texas League that year, hitting .297/.383/.447 with 17 homers and 74 RBIs.

He got to make his debut in his hometown as he was called up to the majors on May 24, 2019 with the Padres on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays. He went 0 for 4 as the designated hitter in a 6-3 win. The next day, he started in right field and collected his first major league hit in the 1st inning, an RBI double off Edwin Jackson. He collected two more hits before the end of the day as the Padres won handily, 19-4. He split his time between left field and right field the rest of the way, hitting .249 in 94 games, with 8 homers, 29 runs and 32 RBIs. The Padres had a very crowded outfield, as he had to fight for playing time with Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Franmil Reyes and Wil Myers, all of whom got regular playing time, not to mention Alex Dickerson, Nick Martini and Travis Jankowski, who appeared in the majors, and prospects knocking at the door like Edward Olivares and Taylor Trammell. The Padres began dealing away some of the surplus, with Margot, Renfroe and Reyes all leaving in separate deals, but two other outfielders in Tommy Pham and Trent Grisham joined the ranks as part of the shuffle. So Josh was still fighting for playing time at the start of 2020, only appearing in 18 games over the first five weeks, and hitting .278 with 1 homer and 4 RBIs. The Padres were a much improved team and as the trading deadline loomed, began to make deals to address areas of weakness. Both Olivares and Trammell were used as trade chips, and on August 31st, Josh joined them when he was sent to the Cleveland Indians alongside C Austin Hedges, P Cal Quantrill and three top prospects - Gabriel Arias, Owen Miller and Joey Cantillo - to obtain ace P Mike Clevinger and OF Greg Allen. He hit .230 in 22 games for the Indians, to finish at .247 with 1 homer and 6 RBIs. Naylor made his debut for the Indians on the day of the trade, making an out as a pinch-hitter. He then was the Indians' best hitter in the postseason, when they were swept in two games by the New York Yankees in the Wild Card Series, going 5 for 7 with 3 doubles and 1 homer.

On April 14, 2021, he came within a whisker of breaking up Chicago White Sox pitcher Carlos Rodon's bid for a perfect game. As the lead-off batter in the 9th, he hit a ground ball to 1B Jose Abreu who beat him to the bag by the slightest margin, the two sliding almost simultaneously. The next batter, Robert Perez, was hit by a pitch to end the perfect game, but Rodon did pitch a no-hitter. On June 27th, he suffered a serious ankle injury in a collision in the outfield in the 4th inning of a game against the Minnesota Twins. He collided with 2B Ernie Clement and landed awkwardly after jumping to get out of the way. He had to be carted off the field with a fracture and did not play again that season. He was off to a solid start, batting .253 with 7 homers and 21 RBIs in 69 games, one of the better marks on a team struggling to find any offense.

He returned to the now-Cleveland Guardians as their first baseman at the start of the 2022 season. On May 9th, he did something unprecedented when he collected 8 RBIs in a 12-9 win over the Chicago White Sox - all of them starting in the 8th inning! He hit a double in the 8th to drive in a first runs, added a grand slam off closer Liam Hendriks in the 9th, and then a three-run blast off Ryan Burr in the 11th to provide Cleveland with its margin of victory. The grand slam, the first of his career, came with two outs and capped a six-run comeback in the top of the 9th that forced the playing of extra innings, and the two teams also exchanged single runs in the 10th. The Guardians winning probability was 0.2% entering the top of the 9th with a six-run deficit. No player had ever hit two homers worth three runs or more each in the 9th inning or later, and only two others in Cleveland history had ever hit two homers of any kind in the 9th or later (Earl Averill and Willie Kirkland).

His younger brother, Noah Naylor, was selected 29th overall in the 2018 amateur draft, by the Indians.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Mandy Bell: "8 RBIs ... starting in the 8th?! History for Naylor", mlb.com, May 10, 2022. [1]

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