Image: Accent Images/Akron RubberDucks

Cleveland selected Bo Naylor in the 1st round (29th overall) in the 2018 draft

Since his days in high school, Bo Naylor has had to mature quickly to adapt to the growing attention and challenges that high-level baseball brought. That maturity and talent is shining bright on a bigger stage, in professional baseball, playing for the Akron RubberDucks of the Double-A Northeast League.

Coming up through high school Naylor, whose given name is Noah, was exposed to a very competitive circuit of baseball as he played for the Canadian Junior National Team and the prestigious Ontario Blue Jays. Some alumni from the Blue Jays include Zach Pop (Miami Marlins), Jordan Romano (Toronto Blue Jays), and the older brother of Bo Naylor, Josh (Cleveland Indians). 

The young catcher learned a lot from his experience in high school and credited both organizations, especially the Blue Jays, for his development as an athlete and as a person. 

“My brother had played for [the Ontario Blue Jays] for a few years and then I got on with them, too. I made a lot of amazing relationships with a lot of players, especially coaches. I can definitely say that they played a huge role in teaching me the things that I know in today’s game, preparing me for today’s game,” Naylor said, “Overall, [they set me up] for the best chance of success. They know how to do it, and they have guys that have gone through that kind of process and really start their players young and growing them into great players and human beings on and off the field.”

“Those two teams (the Canadian National team and the Ontario Blue Jays), hand in hand, really sparked my love for the game and helped me become the person I am today,” the young prospect said. 

After going through the recruiting process, the now 21-year-old opted to enter the MLB draft, familiar with the process there, after watching his older brother do the same thing before. Selected in the first round, 29th overall, in the 2018 draft, the Indians made him feel right at home once getting to Arizona.

“Getting into the draft, getting signed, and then getting to Arizona, really was a whole different environment than I had been in before. I was away from my family, and I was living on my own with teammates that I had just met, meeting a whole bunch of different faces,” the Cleveland farmhand said, “It was definitely a different experience for me, and it took some adjustment to getting used to, but I took advantage of all the resources and all the relationships I was creating. From that point to now, I have enjoyed the ride to the fullest extent.”

Parents push Bo to take advantage of the 2020 shutdown without older brother Josh around to train with

After finding success in rookie ball and having a solid year with Lake County in 2019, the Mississauga native was primed for success in 2020. However, like everyone else, that season of development was stolen away. Despite losing that year of minor league baseball, the Canadian was given an amazing opportunity to continue to develop at the alternate training site, with much of the older, more experienced talent in the Cleveland system. The chance was a welcome one, as he was still able to improve his game and get to play with and against advanced talent through the months of July-September in 2020. 

“For the most part, being around a different group of guys, guys who have played at that top level of the game [was great]. [I was able] to learn as much as I could from them. They definitely have a different perspective than I’ve had in the game,” Naylor said, “I definitely tried to learn as much as I could and perform and show that I could compete at this top level. I feel like that was the biggest thing for me, just continuing to have fun and take advantage of this chance.”  

Even before the alternate site experience, the left-handed hitter was able to get his work done in Canada, with his younger brother Myles and both of his parents, as all three motivated him throughout the shutdown. The youngest Naylor, Myles has been attracting just as much attention as his older brothers did through high school and has already committed to play Division I baseball at Texas Tech University.

The third-ranked prospect in the Cleveland system has also formed close relationships with both of his brothers, and also his parents who have all pushed him to better himself on the diamond and to continue to work despite the circumstances. 

“[Staying ready] during the shutdown started with my parents. Once the year shut down and we were back home, I didn’t have Josh with me at home because he was staying in Arizona. I had [Myles], my mother, and my dad there, and they were on me every single day, pushing me, telling me to get my work and reps in. [They were telling me] this was not the time to sit around and get lazy, this is the time you can be putting in to get extra work and keep yourself ready and motivated for any opportunity that could come up. I can’t thank them enough for preparing me mentally and helping me stay ready through that whole process.”

Bo Naylor

Bo Naylor Named to 2021 Futures Game

Recently, the hard work and talent that IBI’s sixth-ranked prospect has shown was recognized as he was invited to the 2021 Futures Game, as a part of the MLB All-Star game festivities back on July 11. The event invites top prospects from across the league to showcase their talents on the Sunday before the MLB All-Star Game. Before playing in the game, he was extremely excited and thankful for the opportunity. 

“I got a call from James Harris (Cleveland Indians Vice President of Player Development) and he was just checking in on me and my brother (Josh) to see how we were doing, which I really appreciated. I just gave him the rundown on where [Josh] was at and where I was at, handling the situation. And then he said that we had some good news. He told me that I had been selected for the Futures Game. In that moment I was just kind of in shock. I had seen Josh go through it a couple of times, and I know the opportunity and the moments that he’d shared were amazing. That was definitely something that I had been striving to achieve and now that it’s come, it’s an honor. I can’t really be thankful enough for the opportunity that has been given and I am excited for everything that’s come.”

Bo Naylor

During the game, Naylor batted once, grounding out an 0-1 count. He entered the game in the fourth inning for Adely Rutschamn, and caught the rest of the game, catching top prospect arms in Reid Detmers, Marcos Diplan, and Luis Medina. 

Bo’s slow offensive start to the 2021 season

As the 2021 season has progressed, the former first-rounder has overcome a very slow start and has started to heat up. Since July 1st, the 21-year-old has gone 9-30 (.300), scoring eight runs, doubling three times, driving in nine runs, walking four times, and homering three times. All three of his home runs have come in his last three starts on July 9th, 14th, and 15th. His slugging percentage sits at .700 for the month and his on-base percentage is at .382. 

The strong turnaround has not been by accident as the youthful prospect has been working to fix some issues at the plate and becoming more consistent in his mechanics. Overall, he feels like this has been a great chance for him to tackle adversity head-on and improve his mindset as well.  

“[Struggles] are a part of the game. That’s the biggest thing I have taken away from it. It was just a mechanical thing for me, and I’ve definitely been working through that, in game and in practice, keeping my mechanics as consistent as possible. That’s something I have been working through and will continue to work through,” Naylor remarked, “Ultimately, I feel like this was a really good opportunity for me to learn the mental side of the game. I’ve been better at understanding how you should go about [struggling]. The guys around me and the coaches around me have been really supportive and they really make you feel like they have your back. That’s another thing I’ve taken away from this experience, but I’m just on the field every day, ready to attack the day and get one percent better if I can.”

Defensively, the glove has been strong all season for the RubberDuck backstop as he has thrown out 12 of 30 potential base stealers and has provided a steadying presence for the array of arms on the mound for Akron. He has also allowed only three passed balls in 39 games of play. 

The younger brother of the Cleveland Indians’ outfielder Josh Naylor has also been adjusting to a little more sporadic play, as he does not play more than four games a week, and sometimes only plays three of six games in a series. Along with his offensive and defensive game, he has been able to adjust to that change, and take every opportunity he has had to play to learn and grow. 

“I haven’t really seen it as a negative or a positive or something that has been too much. I see it as something that I’ve been trying to adjust to and I feel like I’ve been adjusting to, learning to better my mental aspect of the game. If I am playing like three or four games out of six, learning how to separate offense from defense [has been important],” the Mississauga native said, “[Your] offense is not going to be there every single at-bat, or every single pitch, you’re gonna have your ups and your downs. Defense is something you can 100 percent control and that is something I’ve been trying to control. I think that from the start of the season to now, I’ve learned and progressed and done a really good job of being able to separate the two. That’s for the most part what I have been working on and [I’m] looking forward to more.”

Bo Naylor Profile 

DOB: 2/21/2000 (21)
Draft: 2018 June Amateur Draft – Round 1, Pick: 29, Overall: 29 (Signing bonus $2,578,138)
Bats: L; Throws: R
Hometown: Mississauga, ON – Saint Joan of Arc
College: None
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 195 lbs.
Career if not in baseball: “Probably hockey. We were really into hockey growing up, especially being from Canada, we took that very serious. I think that if not for baseball, all of [my brothers] could have a good opportunity in that sport.”
Favorite Shoe: Adidas Cream Human Race by Pharrell. 
Favorite Music: R & B and Spanish Reggaeton. 
Favorite Food: Birria Tacos
Favorite TV Show and Movie: Money Heist and Coach Carter
Favorite MLB Player: “Besides Josh, Buster Posey and Ronald Acuna.”

Something fans might not know about Bo Naylor: “I am pretty into anime now. I don’t know if a lot of people would have expected that, but as of late I am really into anime. Over quarantine [I got into it] but since then it’s just been really constant.”

A big adjustment that Naylor will have to work with is cutting down on his strikeouts. Currently, his strikeout percentage is at 33.3%, well over his season total from 2019 of 23%. The aggressive push for the 21-year-old to head to Double-A may be the culprit, but the swing-and-miss has been an issue so far. Moving forward, this will likely be an area of focus, as this high percentage is not likely to lead to success or at least sustained success. With a track record of good walk rates and stronger discipline, the numbers should improve, especially as the Akron backstop continues to adjust to Double-A pitching.  

Akron’s young catcher has struggled thus far but has looked to make some changes to tap into his power as of late and allow him to excel offensively. With some strong hitters leaving the RubberDucks for Triple-A, and the team continuing to be ravaged by injuries, Akron will need their gifted backstop to help carry the offensive load. As the season continues, Naylor will look to build off his strong start to July and start to tap into the strong offensive game that made him a first-round selection in 2018.

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