Perfect Game: Scouting Josh Naylor

* Perfect Game Scouting USA break down possible first-day pick 1B-OF Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) of the Ontario Blue Jays. ....

By David Rawnsley and Jheremy Brown
Perfect Game USA

Josh Naylor – 1B

Vid: Naylor in Action

Height/Weight: 6-0/225
Bats/Throws: L/L
Birthdate: June 22, 1997
High School: St. Joan of Arc
Hometown: Mississauga, Ont.
Travel Team: Ontario Blue Jays
Commitment: Texas Tech
Projected Draft Round: 1S-2

One of the basic axioms of any draft class is that power plays up and gets drafted high. The easier and the more consistent the power, the higher the draft slot. The Cubs drafted Kyle Schwarber fourth overall last year without anyone having a clear idea what his future position was going to be. That’s working out very well. The Brewers picking Prince Fielder seventh overall in 2002 was one of the more surprising picks in recent draft history, but also in retrospect, an extremely intelligent one.

Josh Naylor isn’t likely to go fourth or seventh overall in this draft but he does have the type of easy and huge power that could elevate him to a surprisingly high slot in the draft for many teams.

The first time this scout saw the lefthanded hitting Canadian play was at old Fort Lauderdale Stadium in 2012 while playing for the Ontario Blue Jays against a team of Dominican Summer League prospects. Naylor was only in the spring of his freshman year but hit a ball in batting practice completely over the right-center field bleachers in what must have been a 450-foot blast. It was a “really...?!?” type of moment.

At times since then Naylor has become too power conscious, with a tendency to over swing while pulling off the ball with his front side looking to pull and lift the ball. With his natural power, that is unnecessary and leads to too many empty swings and at-bats. A telling moment for Naylor, and the hundreds of scouts who saw him, was at the WWBA World Championship last October. Naylor was hindered by a minor leg injury and noticeably had simplified his stride and swing approach to compensate. He hit brilliantly at that event, including knocking a couple of home runs.

One player that Naylor has been compared to is 2011 Cubs second round pick Dan Vogelbach. While Naylor isn’t as polished of an overall hitter as Vogelbach was at a similar stage in his career, his raw power certainly matches or exceeds him. In addition, while Naylor will never be a svelte or swift athlete, he is much more athletic than Vogelbach and can be a solid defender at first base if he keeps his big body under control. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Naylor picked a bit ahead of Vogelbach’s slot due to that.