Core Players Three and Four for the Cleveland Guardians; Josh Naylor, 1B/OF and Bo Naylor, C
Josh Naylor, a member of Cleveland’s opening day roster in 2021 before a gruesome leg injury ended his season, and Bo Naylor, the Tribe’s first round draft pick in 2018 have an opportunity to provide some nostalgia for Indians fans reminiscent of Roberto Alomar and Sandy Alomar Jr suiting up together in 1999 and 2000.
It took some time for Josh to grow on me, but at just 24 the eldest Naylor had slashed .253/.301/.399 in 69 games before injury this season, and appeared to be just getting the hang of his swing and timing. The flexibility to play both first base and right field was invaluable to Cleveland in the early goings of 2021 as the Yu Chang/Jake Bauers experiment was doomed to fail and the outfield was wildly unstable.
Josh displayed the ability to hit for average in San Diego’s farm system, and there’s still some untapped power in his swing yet to be unlocked, something Cleveland hopes he can find when he’s healthy in 2022. With the reluctance from the front office to call up Bobby Bradley this season until quite literally forced to, the future of first base is justifiably in question. Josh will likely compete for a near every day spot at first or continue to platoon in right field depending on his health.
Meanwhile, the younger Naylor has progressed rather quickly through the minors due to trades, injuries and some deservedness. The bat is still questionable, but he has shown some promising power with 11 doubles and nine home runs despite a .183 average this season.
Bo, Cleveland’s No. 6 prospect according to MLB.com, has been very impressive behind the dish for Akron this season, registering a .994 fielding percentage and throwing out runners at a 35% clip, exceeding some early expectations for his defensive capabilities. Also, just for the record, Roberto Perez has caught 40% of attempted runners in his eight-year career, and Alomar Jr. posted a 32% rate in 19 seasons.
The Naylor Brothers are both under the age of 25, Josh is (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) under team control through 2026, and both have the potential to be regular faces with the Guardians teams of the not-so-distant future. Staying power is always in question with young players, look no further than Oscar Mercado, but Bo and Josh both have respectably high floors. How high can they push their ceilings?