By Carlos Collazo
One of two Under Armour All-America Game representatives from Canada, Noah Naylor is the younger brother of Josh Naylor, who at midseason is the No. 10 prospect in the Padres system.
Aside from his nationality or family ties, Naylor happens to be one of the top catchers in a talented 2018 high school class. He’s one of the best defensive backstops in the class and offers some power from the lefthand side as well. Naylor is committed to Texas A&M.
Baseball America caught up with Naylor to talk about the differences with Canadian baseball, how he got started in the game, what he’s learned from his brother, and more.
Baseball America: How did you get started with baseball?
Noah Naylor: For me it all started with my dad. When he was a kid, throughout his teenage years he had a strong passion for the game. He didn’t play at a high level like my brother and I do, but he loved the game a lot and he wanted to bring us into that game as well. And hopefully we carry the same passion that he did when he played. And of course we did, and he’s definitely been a big part from the start in our careers.
BA: What’s baseball in Canada like since you guys don’t really have high school ball and it’s more about travel teams and the Canadian team?
NN: In Canada for high school baseball, it’s not as big as it is in the United States. There’s not really much recruiting going on from there. So we mainly have travel teams and programs that go on throughout the winter and the summer. So it’s really year-round like here in the States. Baseball Canada, that team has done a lot for baseball itself in Canada. Helping grow the game. And coming out with some amazing players. Andy Yerzy, Josh Naylor my brother, Adam Hall, just a lot of great talent coming out of Canada thanks to them.
BA: How much of a challenge is all the travel?
NN: We’ve gone through it for a while now. I was on the junior national team at the age of 15. From then, that’s when the traveling and everything kind of started because I had my travel team, then Baseball Canada. Just dealing with all of that and still school at the same time. You kind of learn to prioritize. Take a lot of authority and a lot of importance to that part of traveling. It does help us a lot. It gets us used to it early. It’s a great help.
BA: Last year talking to Adam Hall, he said going from the spring playing for the National Team he’d face minor league guys and then come back to the high school side and sometimes he couldn’t get his hands going. What’s that back and forth like for you?
NN: Baseball Canada does a good job of helping you deal with adversity. Facing new challenges. So something like that, just changing different speeds, they definitely help you get exposed to different types of pitchers and that helps your game grow and be better. But today, it’s not like high school pitchers are throwing any less. They’re kind of around the same speeds. You see guys throwing anywhere from 90 to 98 mph these days.
BA: You mentioned your brother earlier, what was it like growing up with him and playing with him and seeing him go through the process that you’re currently going through now?
NN: He’s definitely been a big help in everything. He just does a great job on updating me and helping me through every situation, every showcase, everything possible that he can to make sure that I’m playing to the best of my ability and that I’m able to perform as best as I can. He really does a good job of not only helping me but inspiring me to be the best player that I can be.
BA: Everyone is going to bring up your brother, but you guys are very different players. How would you describe your strengths and weaknesses?
NN: I’d say my strength is my defence. I take a lot of pride in my defence, whether it’s behind the plate, at one of the corners or maybe even up the middle. I feel like defence is definitely a big part of the game and if you’re good on the defensive side it really helps you throughout the game—and not only you, but your team as well. Also, I think that one of my strengths is my bat. I feel like I’m a gap-to-gap hitter with a little bit of pop to it as well. Just overall, I feel like I have good discipline, can hit the ball to all fields. But overall I think that those are my main strengths. Not really a weakness, but something I can definitely improve is my running. I feel like I’ve definitely gotten quicker over the last couple of years, but it’s always something to work on. And I think that would just add to my game overall.
BA: Are there educational components with your travel ball programs? Can you touch on how you keep up with that while traveling?
NN: They really preach managing your time. So if you’re not on the field, or not really doing anything on a bus ride or something, they really want you to make sure you’re getting all your work done and you’re not just sitting down doing nothing, falling behind while everyone is in class doing their stuff. When you’re out there it’s not like it’s just vacation. Especially during the school year. You’re not just working on the field, but you’re working off the field, in the classroom. Whether it’s on a bus, in a hotel room, an airport, anything.
BA: What was it like when you found out that you were coming to the Under Armour All-America Game?
NN: I mean it is like a dream come true. Josh has been in it and I know he had a lot of fun with the event, and I’m excited to be able to share the same experiences he did.
BA: Anything in particular that you’re looking forward to aside from the game itself?
NN: I don’t know, there’s a lot to take in. Not just the game overall, but like you said playing with the best players in the country, just being able to be in this type of situation—it’s a dream overall.
BA: Aside from the Blue Jays, are there any other teams you pull for?
NN: I like the Giants. Mainly because of Buster Posey. And maybe Brandon Crawford as well. That’s been my team. It all started with them, as well as the Blue Jays.
BA: Do you model your game after Buster or just look up to him as a player?
NN: Yeah, for sure (I try to model my game after him). Definitely playing with intent. Taking over the game. From behind the plate, whether it’s helping your pitcher out, controlling the base running, any aspect related to that. But not just on the field, but also being a good role model off the field as well.
BA: What’s your walkup song?
NN: My walkup song would probably be “Still Dre,” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. At the start of the song, just kind of an instrumental version, I like that, the beat and everything. It gets me pumped up.
BA: What kind of music do you listen to?
NN: Mainly hip hop. I’ve been around that for a while and I just really like it. I like a lot of people. Maybe Drake . . . Kendrick Lamar. It could really be anybody—I’ll listen to it.
BA: What’s your go-to Chipotle order?
NN: Chicken bowl. I’m kind of picky with the toppings, but I’ll add some stuff, for sure.