The San Diego Padres are currently constructing a winning formula. The franchise has put a great emphasis on the future and with that the team has hoarded tons of talent in the last few months. It all started in the June Amateur Draft as the Padres had six of the top 85 picks and they selected very wisely. Cal Quantrill, Hudson Potts, Eric Lauer, Buddy Reed, Reggie Lawson and Mason Thompson give the team a solid nucleus to build on. Then came the July 2 international signing period and A.J. Preller surely made himself known even more.
Adrian Morejon, Luis Almanzar, Jorge Ona, Gabriel Arias, Jeisson Rosario, Jordy Barley, Ronald Bolanos, and Justin Lopez are all top-30 talents on the international market an each are now property of the San Diego Padres. But it doesn’t end there as the Padres have acquired Chris Paddack, Hansel Rodriguez, Fernando Tatis Jr., Anderson Espinoza, and Josh Naylor is the past few weeks. The ball club once bare of prospects is now crowded with many potential players who can help usher in a successful run of Padres seasons.
Probably one of the most exciting acquisitions is that of young slugging first baseman Josh Naylor, formerly of the Miami Marlins. He recently took time out of his busy schedule to talk with me. I spoke to him the day after he hit his first home run as a Padres farm hand. It wad a grand slam over the right field fence and I congratulated him on the first of many. He laughed and told me “It felt good off the bat and I was kinda hoping it went out, there’s a big wall in right field and it just cleared it.” I then asked Josh his thoughts on the ballpark in Lake Elsinore. He told me he loves the ballpark and is really enjoying his time in Lake Elsinore.
Josh had not previously spent much time in San Diego but loved his experience during the MLB All-Star game. He was chosen to represent the World Team (Canadian Native) in the Future’s Game and got a base hit in his only at bat. He loved his brief time in San Diego and spoke about the weather, the people, and Petco Park. “It was an amazing experience and I enjoyed my time there. Having my family there too was great.” He looks forward to hopefully one day calling San Diego his home and with his production on the field, it really is only a matter of time.
We spoke about the trade from the Marlins and how it must have been a shock to him. The Marlins think very highly of Josh Naylor, and were not at all happy about having to part with him. They had a need though and Andrew Cashner could be a missing piece for that franchise. The Marlins have playoff aspirations and with that sometimes you have to take a risk. They certainly did that as Naylor has the ability to be a special player.
“It was all so quick and all so sudden. It was very sad leaving the group of guys I got really close to. Saying goodbye to good friends was rough. Hopefully we cross roads again. My mom always tells me everything always happens for a reason. I’m so excited to get going with the Padres. They moved me up a level. Which is a little bit nerve-wracking at first. The first game I went 0-5 because I really wanted to impress everyone. But you know, I am starting to relax and I am really loving this organization. I am truly thankful”.
In talking to Josh I brought up Chris Paddack. Both players were acquired from the Marlins only a few weeks apart. Josh knows Chris Paddack very well and I asked him about Paddack and the type of pitcher he is. We also naturally discussed the Tommy John injury that he suffered and the fact the pitcher has the makeup to return even stronger. ” He was one of the best pitchers I’ve seen so far in the minor leagues. He is really good. Seeing him go down like that is very tough. I reached out to him and wished him luck and a healthy surgery. I told him he is going to come back even stronger and even better. He and I are pretty good friends.”
David Ortiz was Josh Naylor’s favorite player growing up. He also liked Jason Varitek and had both players jerseys. His dad and himself watched Red Sox games and he rooted for the Sox. Now that he is a professional player, he only has time to better his game. He is a Padres fan now because that is the name of the organization he wears across his chest. That is the type of player he is, I got that sense from the beginning. Amazing to see that from a 19-year-old. He has a presence about him that he belongs here and with that swagger and calm confidence he will go far in this game.
Josh understands the game and the business side of it as well. Though it was disappointing leaving the team that drafted you, he realizes that the Padres thought so highly of him that they moved one of their better pitchers for him. The Qualifying Offer was still in play for Cashner if he remained with the team. The front office obviously viewed Josh Naylor as a better prospect than anyone they could have gotten with that potential low-level first round pick. Thus Andrew Cashner was dealt. The team could not be anymore happy to have Josh Naylor and they definitely view him as a piece to the puzzle.
We next discussed his game and how he views himself. Naylor has amazing power potential and most scouts rave about the way the ball jumps off his bat. He isn’t just a prototypical power-hitter though as he continually makes solid contact. He has a solid swing from the left side of the box and barrels up balls with ease. He has the ability to be a decent major league hitter as well as a power hitter. His development will be key, but the man said all the right things to me. “I try to do whatever I can to help the team win. Whether that is on offense or defense or even on the bench.”
We next talked about how he is working to get better. “Every single aspect of my game needs work. Along with everybody else for that matter. Nobody is perfect on the baseball field. The game will humble you quick if you think too hard. I work on every single aspect of my game, day in and day out.” He prepares himself for success and that is all you can really ask for from a young player.
It is something special that the Padres decided to put him in High-A ball to begin his career with the franchise. At the age of 19 he is one of the younger players in the league and I talked to Joah about what that meant to him. His response was “It is an honor and it is very humbling. I was very happy when the Padres told me they were sending me there. I knew I could play at that level and I really wanted to shine. We have a phenomenal team here at Lake Elsinore. It’s an honor playing here with these guys.”
Josh is a very quiet and very respectful. My interaction with him was a pleasure. He is the type of player who goes in and gets his work done without saying much or raising a fuss. He is a team player and has advanced skill in pretty much all facets of the game. Though he will not win any track competitions, he is a heady base runner and has above average instincts on the base paths. Defensively he needs some work and he would be the first to say so. It’s not a huge problem at all, as he is surely young enough and athletic enough to improve. He told me he works hard to get better every day and there is no doubt in my mind that he will do just that.
The future for this young man is very exciting. The Padres have not had much success with young talent but that all appears to be changing. Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Austin Hedges, Travis Jankowski and Carlos Asuaje represent the first wave of talent to reach the major leagues. Naylor will surely not be far behind. His bat is legit and in talking to this young man, he has what it takes to be successful. Do yourself a favor a go check out Josh Naylor in Lake Elsinore. He will surely only be there for a short time. This young man is on the fast-track and a trip to Texas (San Antonio & El Paso) is surely in his future. A special thanks to Josh and a tip of the cap to him for his time. Go Padres!