GOODYEAR, Ariz. – It may have only been an intrasquad scrimmage, but the Naylor brothers couldn’t wait to send a picture of the lineup card that listed both Josh’s and Bo’s names to their mom.
“It was surreal,” Josh Naylor said. “You don’t think like that, being in the same lineup as your brother. And when it does happen, it’s a blessing.”
“Seeing it first-hand, it was like, ‘Wow, this is really happening?’” Bo Naylor said. “You kind of take a step back and just appreciate what both of our lives have come to, you know?”
It’s something they’ve only experienced one time in their lives. When Josh was 15 and Bo was 12, the two played in the same youth baseball game together when the older age group needed an extra player to fill in.
“[Bo] came in and hit a pinch-hit double,” Josh said. “I remember it vividly. He had one at-bat. Maybe two at-bats, but one double, for sure.”
Maybe he remembered it so vividly because Josh never knew if that moment – having his brother on his team – would ever happen again. It’s the same feeling that he had just after the two reported to Goodyear, Ariz., together for Spring Training and he just sat back and watched Bo take batting practice.
“It was so surreal,” Josh said. “Watching off in the background, seeing him develop from when we were kids and watching his game improve yearly and his tools improve. Seeing it all play out on a big league field in front of me, it's beautiful.”
It’s a beautiful thing for an older brother who tried to be the best role model he could. Growing up in Canada, as Josh would say, “you’re born with a pair of skates on your feet.” Although they also grew up playing hockey, it was the feeling of swinging a bat that kept Josh so passionate about baseball. So, he started to pave the way for him and his brother.
Josh was drafted by the Marlins in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft. He was traded to San Diego in 2016 and made his debut in 2019 for the Padres. He’s been able to share advice with Bo, who was drafted in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the Indians, following in Josh’s footsteps.
“Growing up, all through my life, I definitely looked up to him as a role model,” Bo said. “Seeing what he’s gone through through his career, on and off the field, he’s definitely someone that I’ve looked up to. Day in and day out, I’m proud to be the one to call him my brother.”
During the baseball season, their conversations had to happen from afar. Josh spent 2019 in San Diego and Bo was with Class A Lynchburg. But on Aug. 31, 2020, the two suddenly became much closer.
Bo received a text from his mom that read, “Your brother just got traded.” Bo responded, “To who?” and let the suspense build as he waited for his mother’s response. “Cleveland,” she wrote.
“My jaw dropped,” Bo said. “It was just, like, ‘Wow, this is happening.’ … Right from then, I started to picture all of the things that could’ve happened, all those possibilities. It was just an amazing feeling altogether.”
At the same time, it was easy for the brothers to both reflect on their journeys to reach this point. The two grew up playing catch in the street. Bo would squat down and catch Josh’s “bullpens” in the front yard when they were under 10 years old. Despite the two-and-a-half-year age difference, they were always competitive to see who would win bragging rights.
“Me and him make each other better as athletes,” Josh said, “and as humans because we want each other to be the best we can be.”
Every year, Josh and Bo train together in the offseason, and they even got their youngest brother (15-year-old Myles) to join them this past winter.
“Our family is very close knit,” Josh said, “so we kind of do it all together.”
Now, it may be a few more years until their names can get penciled into the same big league lineup, as 21-year-old Bo has yet to reach Double-A, so the brothers are taking advantage of their first Spring Training camp together and allowing themselves to dream – just a little bit – about the future.
“When [Bo] comes up to the big leagues and we're sharing a field together it's just so cool to look back,” Josh said. “We did all this work to get here at the same time. We're here at the same time now, and now we have the same goal in life. It's a blessing.”