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Bo Naylor Gets Acclimated To Pro Ball With Help From His Older Brother

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Bo Naylor (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

When amateur players enter the professional realm for the first time, there are always adjustments to be made.

Obstacles are presented, challenges are met, and success dictates next steps. Some aspects of the transition might be easier for higher-round picks, and for a first-round pick with a brother who was also selected in the first round just three years before him, a little bit of shared experience can make all the difference.

After being taken by the Cleveland Indians with the 29th overall pick last year, Bo Naylor joined the organization’s Arizona League affiliate and hit .274/.381/.402 with two home runs, three doubles, three triples, 21 RBIs, 17 runs and five stolen bases in 33 games.

“It’s been amazing,” Naylor said. “I was welcomed with big arms by the organization, and that’s something I’m very grateful for. When I got out there, they really took their time with me and I ended up having a pretty good first season. I met a lot of great people and made a lot of great relationships, so that’s something I get to look forward to continuing for next season.” 

His older brother Josh Naylor spent last season with the Padres’ Double-A affiliate in San Antonio after being drafted by the Marlins with the 12th overall pick in 2015. In his fourth minor league season, the 21-year-old Naylor hit .297/.383/.447 with 17 homers, 22 doubles, one triple, 74 RBIs and 72 runs in 128 games.

“Josh and I talk about baseball about the same amount now as we did before,” the younger Naylor said. “Nothing’s really changed. When I have something to ask, I’ll approach him about it and ask him, and he always gives me great answers that help me. But whenever we get a chance to talk about anything and I get to learn from him, I try to do that.”

The oldest of three boys, Josh felt as though the only thing that fazed his brother even the slightest bit last year was the everyday battle to stay on the field, compete and feel good about it.  

“I helped him prepare for the daily grind,” Josh said. “He’s in Arizona, so he got up later this year but he ended later. I remember he called me one day and was like, ‘Man, I’m exhausted. I get there at one o’clock, I get back at one o’clock, I end up going to bed at two-thirty (in the morning). How do you cope with that?’  

“I told him, ‘Once you end the game and when baseball is done for the day, you have to get home and go to bed. You need to get as much rest as you can, try not to get up late, get up at a reasonable time and get a good meal in you and have three or four hours to chill and then get to the field and get ready.’”

Bo’s big brother also made sure the 18-year-old had the tools he needed on the field, sending him bats during the season and helping him get through every little thing that came up along the way. But both Naylors agreed that the biggest factor in easing Bo’s transition to the pro ranks was his time with the Canadian Junior National Team.

“Baseball Canada does a great job of preparing you for pro ball,” the young catcher said. “Greg [Hamilton, Baseball Canada’s director of national teams] has been a very big part of my development and helped set my expectations and helped the whole process be easier, so everything went smoothly…Knowing what to expect when you’re going into it definitely makes it easier, and it makes the journey that much more memorable.”

Added Josh: “With the national team, you go through the minor league life for a week in spring training, and then in October for instructs, and you’re going from country to country. It’s tough, but this has prepared him. He had a great first year, and he’s going to have to adjust to things that pop up.

“Let’s say he goes to Low A next year—he’s going to have the same routine as this year, getting up late and ending extremely late, so you’ve got to adjust to it. The living situation is going to be different and you’re going to have to find your way to the field, so there are some things you have to figure out and he’ll be fine with it. He’s very mature for his age and I know how bad he wants to be in the big leagues, so he’ll do whatever it takes.”

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For his accomplishments and his contributions to Team Canada during his time in the red-and-white uniform, the national organization recently honoured the Mississauga, Ontario native at its annual banquet and fundraiser with Junior National Team MVP award.  

“It’s an honor,” Bo said. “I was honored last year as well [also winning the MVP award for his performance in 2017] and I’m forever grateful for that. I can’t thank Baseball Canada, or Greg and the whole staff and everyone who’s a part of this, enough for everything they’ve done for me. They’ve really shaped me as a player, but also as a person—on and off the field.”

After being recognized alongside his brother last year, with Josh winning the Larry J. Pearson Alumni Award for his 2017 season, the older Naylor had a front row seat to see his brother take center stage this year.

“It’s incredible,” Josh said. “I remember on his draft day I cried because I was so excited for him. I was so happy. This is awesome, and I’m so happy he’s getting the recognition he deserves. He’s a phenomenal player with phenomenal talent, and it’s going to take him to the big leagues one day and set him up for life hopefully.”

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