First-round pick Naylor not just a slugger

No. 12 overall selection in 2015 Draft considered pure hitter

January 28th, 2016

MIAMI -- As advertised, Josh Naylor, the 12th overall pick in the 2015 Draft, has already displayed plenty of raw power. That was evident shortly after he signed with the Marlins last summer and took batting practice with the big league club at Marlins Park.

The 18-year-old left-handed-hitting first baseman routinely launched drives to all fields, a number of them clearing the outfield wall. Everyone took notice. But in Minor League games, the organization was equally impressed with Naylor's overall approach to hitting.

Projections say Naylor is not just a power hitter. The 6-foot, 225-pounder is considered a pure hitter. Naylor's overall approach draws comparisons to a young Miguel Cabrera, who also broke in with the Marlins.

"The power, it's game-changing," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "It really is. He hits the ball so hard. He can hit balls out of any field. It's fun to watch him play.

"People talk about his power, but he's a hitter with power. You liken him to the same type of player when we had Cabrera. Cabrera was a hitter with power."

The Marlins aren't saying Naylor is the next Cabrera, but the Missassauga, Ontario, native still has a chance to be special. MLB Pipeline ranks him as Miami's third overall prospect. Naylor is also listed as the No. 8 overall first-base prospect in the Minors.

The Marlins had long monitored Naylor, scouting the lefty slugger at showcase events and tournaments for several years before he was eligible for the Draft. With the 12th overall pick, he became the highest drafted Canadian position player ever.

Naylor missed some time last summer due to a bout of mononucleosis. In 25 games for the Gulf Coast League Marlins, he showed his all-around approach, batting .327/.352/.418 with one home run, four doubles, a triple and 16 RBIs. Naylor drew four walks and struck out 11 times in 98 at-bats.

"He's a young hitter who understands the strike zone and understands what he needs to do to be successful," Hill said. "He's not afraid to take a walk."

Defensively, Naylor is considered "solid" at first base. Because of his size, the team is emphasizing that he stays on top of his conditioning.

"He's good around the bag," Hill said. "His footwork is good. We'll just continue to give him the work that he needs to stay sharp."

After the Gulf Coast League season ended, Naylor participated in the instructional league, which ended in early October, and showed more promise. He is expected to start his first full professional season with the Class A Short-Season Batavia Muckdogs in the New York-Penn League.