With consistent playing time, Josh Naylor is starting to show the San Diego Padres his offensive profile.
That has not proven to be the case, as the young left-handed hitter turned himself into a serviceable outfielder. The Padres, in need of left-handed hitters, have given Naylor plenty of time in the outfield in the last few weeks. He has responded by putting up a .286/.354/.529 slash line in the last 30 days and 70 at-bats at the major league level. “He has made some adjustments offensively that we are happy about,” Andy Green indicated last week at Petco Park.
“The Mississauga Masher” is still only 22 years old and there is a lot to like about his offensive upside. His hitting improved, as Naylor has made adjustments to his swing and, more importantly, his approach at the plate. “I am just trying to narrow down my zone and get good pitches to hit. That is what I have to do,” Naylor told East Village Times. He recognizes that he often chases pitches when he gets into a funk. Naylor is concentrating on getting his pitch to hit and not helping the pitcher.
On July 21, Naylor was optioned back to El Paso. He needed to get consistent at-bats, and he did at the PCL level. “When you see pitching daily, it does help. You end up getting in a rhythm. Your confidence gets up because you are seeing pitching, and you get more comfortable all around,” Naylor said. Though it was at the Triple-A level, Naylor kept his head up and worked on his swing. “Both Burkheart’s helped me out when I was there. We had a plan when I got there, and we executed it,” Naylor said referring to Morgan and Lance Burkheart who coach in El Paso.
In mid-July, while in San Diego, Naylor wasn’t getting ample playing time because the Padres were rotating several outfielders at the time. The trade of Franmil Reyes opened a spot for Naylor, and it was a little bitter-sweet for the outfielder. Naylor and Reyes are very good friends. He spoke about the trade- “It’s tough. He and I are pretty close. I actually spoke to him yesterday. It was tough for him. In a situation like that, you are basically starting a whole new life,” Naylor said with a somber look. “It was a tough pill to swallow, and everyone really does miss him. I especially miss him. Just seeing his smile and making me laugh and stuff. It was tough,” Naylor admits about the loss of Reyes. The game of baseball is larger than any individual, and it must move forward. Not seeing Franmil in the locker room was difficult, but these men are immune to such things. They would not be at this level of professional baseball if they did not have thick skin.
There are several things a hitter focuses on during a season. Presently, Naylor is working on a few basic things- “Just staying in my zone. I am just staying confident in the box because I know I can hit anybody up here. I am just continuing that mindset,” Naylor said confidently. You need to believe in yourself, and you cannot try to do too much. Naylor is learning this approach and the numbers he is presently producing attest to that.
Josh Naylor always had an edge about his game. Throughout his minor league career, he carried himself in a manner that epitomized a major leaguer. He still has that aura about him, but at the same time, you sense that he has learned to be humbled by the game gracefully. “I am just trying to stay even-keeled and help this team win,” Naylor said. This is just another indication of his maturity and growth in the mental aspect of the game.
In closing, Josh Naylor recognizes he is a work in progress. He wants to get better and will put in the time to improve. “Everything needs work on my part. I am not perfect. Nobody is perfect in this game. Just all around, improve on everything,” Naylor admits. If there were one thing he is working on most, he would tell you this- “Preparation is big for me right now.”
Though Josh Naylor is not very active on social media, he still cares about the fans. “We have a great fan base here — the best in the big leagues. The fans are pulling for each player, and hopefully, we will bring them something special here soon. They know it, and so do we. It is all about patience. We just need them to keep supporting us,” Naylor said intensely.