Weight: 195 lbs.
60 yard dash: 6.62 sec
C Throw: 82 MPH
Pop: 1.78 sec
(Via Perfect Game)
Only 18 years old, Naylor is a very raw prospect both from a hitting perspective and catching perspective. He is currently committed to attend Texas A&M. Additionally, his older brother, Josh Naylor, was the 12th overall pick of the 2015 MLB Draft and is currently in the San Diego Padres farm system.
At the plate, Naylor showed his raw power at the 2017 All Star Game in Miami when he won the High School Home Run Derby as he beat out another top prospect in this draft class, Nolan Gorman. While Naylor showed off this power in a derby, he still is figuring out how to hone in his power during games and will need to work on that at the minor league level. At a grade of 55, power from the left side of the plate is Naylor’s strongest tool.
However, what Naylor has shown during high school games is a good feel for hitting, getting the barrel of the bat to the ball and hitting line drives to different parts of the field. Catchers who hit for average and power are extremely valuable for any team’s farm system, but Naylor has a bit more work to do on the contact side of the equation. If he can improve there, then he’ll be a pretty complete hitter for a catching prospect.
As far as his defensive prowess, Naylor’s strongest tool is his arm, which has a grade of 55. His current frame leaves room for the 18 year-old to get a lot stronger and improve his defensive ability behind the plate. The Astros coaching staff would surely have to work with the young catcher to improve his pop time in order to put his great arm in an effective position to throw out more base runners.
Right now, an MLB comparison for Noah Naylor is a bit tricky because there are so few left-handed hitting catchers in the majors right now. The closest comparison I could draw was Yasmani Grandal. Coming out of college, Grandal had similar defensive numbers to Naylor as both had a pop time of 1.78 seconds, and Grandal had a throw from catcher at 84 MPH while Naylor’s is at 82 MPH.
Grandal was definitely thought of as a more complete defensive catcher, while Naylor has more holes in his defensive game. At Naylor’s advantage, however, is that he’s considered a much better power hitter than Grandal was coming into the MLB Draft. Essentially, the similarities I found were in the frames of the two and the defensive numbers. The offensive tools were certainly not similar.
Projected Draft Round
In most mock drafts, it seems that Naylor is projected to be picked somewhere in the 21-29 range at the latter end of the first round. Many teams like young left-handed catchers with raw power and solid arm strength, so I really do not see Naylor slipping beyond the first round unless there is a longer run on outfielders than some draft gurus expect in this part of the draft.
Does Naylor Make Sense for the Houston Astros?
Naylor certainly makes sense as the type of prospect that Astros GM Jeff Luhnow would be interested in drafting. Luhnow has consistently shown that he likes to draft a catcher in the first five rounds of the draft, selecting Nathan Perry, Jake Rogers, and Anthony Hermelyn in the last few years. The problem here is that I expect Naylor to definitely be gone by the time the Astros pick in the second round, and I’m not confident that the Astros would select Naylor over an outfielder in the first round.
After trading Jake Rogers in the Justin Verlander trade, the Astros certainly have a need for catchers in the farm system right now. Will that be enough for Luhnow to pull the trigger on a catcher in Round 1? That’s the tough question right now.