Naylor swats first HR vs. team that drafted him

Margevicius stumbles in rough 4th inning; rotation decisions loom

June 2nd, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- 's life as a ballplayer sure has come full circle over the past week.

Seven days ago in Toronto, the 21-year-old outfielder recorded his first Major League hit, mere miles from his hometown of Mississauga, Ontario. Perhaps the slugging outfielder has a knack for storylines and drama.

In the Padres' 9-3 loss to the Marlins on Saturday night, Naylor demolished his first career home run into the right-field seats at Petco Park -- against the team that drafted and eventually traded him, no less.

“Doesn't really matter who it was against, I just wanted it to happen” Naylor said. “It is a little special, because they're the ones who drafted me and gave me that first opportunity. I'm forever thankful for them for that.”

Naylor was selected by Miami in the first round of the 2015 MLB Draft as a highly touted prospect with power potential and excellent plate discipline. The following summer, he was taking a nap when his mom called after she’d been checking Trade Deadline Twitter.

She informed Naylor that he’d been traded to the Padres, part of the deal that sent Andrew Cashner and Tayron Guerrero to the Marlins. In the three years since, Naylor has developed into one of San Diego’s most advanced young hitters. His knowledge of the strike zone is already big league caliber, and -- clearly -- he’s starting to grow into some of his power.

In a scoreless game in the second, Naylor turned on a 2-2 slider from Marlins starter Jose Urena. He sent it a projected 388 feet with an exit velocity of 106 mph. From the moment it left his bat, there was no doubt.

“He's hit balls consistently hard his entire Minor League career,” said Padres manager Andy Green. “Generating loft was probably a little bit tougher a couple years ago, and we finally saw him come into that power last year. … You watch him take BP, and he’s got light-tower power. He’s got a lot of it in him.”

“Power comes when you're cautious with the pitches you swing at,” Naylor said. “When you get the right pitch and elevate it the right way, it's going to go.”

Naylor rounded the bases, then grew animated as he returned to the home dugout. In a fit of excitement, he threw his helmet towards the bat rack, then embarked on a rather emphatic round of high fives. (Shortly thereafter, Hunter Renfroe would treat Naylor’s helmet with a series of Band-Aids.)

“That’s fun,” Green said. “He’s a passionate guy. We got to see it in the dugout, and everybody felt it.”

In Naylor, the Padres have an interesting conundrum. His left-handed bat is valuable in a righty-heavy offense that has struggled to reach base. But after his move from first base last season, Naylor’s outfield defense leaves much to be desired. Plus, Franmil Reyes and Renfroe -- who lead the team in OPS -- already anchor the outfield corners, and Franchy Cordero could return next week.

In the short term, Naylor is going to need to hit if he wants to stay in San Diego. But this much is clear: As long as he’s here, he’s going to play.

“We trust his bat, we believe he's going to hit for us, we believe he's going to be a real big league hitter,” said Green. “The only real way to see that is to write his name in the lineup and let him play baseball.”

Margevicius struggles

The Padres recalled to start Saturday. After struggling in May, he’d been optioned to Double-A two weeks ago.

Margevicius’ first start in June wasn’t an improvement. The 22-year-old left-hander didn’t record an out in the fourth inning, instead allowing five runs (four earned) in the frame. After three quick, effective innings to start the outing, Margevicius came unraveled.

“He had a hard time throwing strikes with his [offspeed pitches],” Green said. “Eventually, they caught onto that in the second time through the order.”

Opposing offenses sure seem to have figured out Margevicius’ pitch mix, and his high-80s fastball isn’t beating hitters anymore. In his last four starts, Margevicius owns a 9.17 ERA with a 1.98 WHIP.

Rotation decisions ahead

Given his recent struggles, Margevicius might not be long for the big league rotation. But Green wouldn’t say whether the rookie southpaw will receive another start this week.

The Padres, who prefer to keep their starters on five days rest, already need to find one callup for this stretch of 10 games in 10 days. If Margevicius were to be sent down, they’d need to find two.

Of course, there are two readymade options at Triple-A El Paso, in and Logan Allen -- both of whom lost out to Margevicius for a place in the season-opening rotation.

Quantrill was sharp in Toronto last weekend before he was optioned, and he seems like the obvious choice for one of those spots. That could leave a decision between Allen and Margevicius for Friday’s start against Washington.