It’s no secret that the Padres aren’t afraid to move their prospects forward and give them a chance to prove themselves. If Josh Naylor comes up and hits, it’s possible the lefty hitter sticks for good. The team is still looking for someone to step up and earn 2 of the 3 outfield positions.
For now, he’ll likely serve in a backup roll. In his mind he’s coming up to start, and he should feel that way.
Naylor came over in the controversial 2016 trade with the Marlins. Originally a 1st baseman, he’s since transitioned to corner outfield. The 21 year old is slotted as the #99 prospect by Baseball America. Could he win a starting spot in a crowded, under performing outfield? Let’s quickly look at the crew he’s joining.
Wil Myers .228 BA .299 OBP 7 HR 15 RBI 15 Walks vs. 61 SO’s
Franmil Reyes .258 BA .301 OBP 15 HR 27 RBI 11 Walks vs. 45 SO’s
Hunter Renfroe .228 BA .264 11 HR 23 RBI 7 Walks vs. 38 SO’s
Manuel Margot .240 BA .264 OBP 2 HR 10 RBI 4 Walks vs. 29 SO’s
So, collectively the “starting” outfield rotation have walked 37 times while striking out 173 times. Woof. Renfroe and Reyes have supplied power, but nobody is hitting for average and getting on base enough. Reyes is the clear starter in Right Field, so Naylor has an opening to take Left Field. Let’s look at Naylor’s slash line.
Career: .286 BA .349 OBP 53 HR 278 RBI 163 Walks vs. 286 SO’s.
2019: .299 BA .378 OBP 10 HR 35 RBI 24 Walks vs. 24 SO’s.
Obviously we can’t simply look at his production in the Minors and assume he’ll hit at this level. There are certainly some indicators that he will though. Over the last season and a half, he’s had remarkable plate discipline. He walked only 5 fewer times than he’s struck out. He’s aggressive, but doesn’t swing out of his shoes (*cough* Margot). It’s worth mentioning that all 4 of the current Outfielders have had problems striking out their entire career, including their Minor league years. His OBP would lead the team, and it wouldn’t be close. He would seem to be the complete package.
The Padres clearly feel like Naylor can come up and compete for a starting spot right away. It’ll start off as an audition, but if he has success early on things will get interesting. I get the sense that he may be here to stay.
No pressure Josh, we’re all counting on you.