Naylor brothers on the rise after all-star events

Noah Naylor found himself rubbing elbows with MLB’s biggest stars while waiting to compete in the high school home run derby at Marlins Park on Monday.

The 17-year-old catcher from Mississauga, Ont., was in awe as he chatted up Max Scherzer, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Salvador Perez. But as he stepped to the plate to take his home run hacks, he was more excited that his older brother, San Diego Padres prospect Josh Naylor, was there to cheer him on.

The older Naylor, in Miami to compete in Sunday’s MLB Futures Game, had been in Noah’s shoes three years earlier as a participant in the high school derby at Target Field.

“Josh was basically coaching me the whole way through,” Noah said from Miami a day after losing to Arizona’s Nolan Gorman in the derby final. “He helped make sure I enjoyed the experience, soaked it all in, just helped me understand that the most important part is to have fun and recognize where you are.

“This doesn’t come around every day and he told me to just appreciate that.”

Noah was the third Canadian ever to compete in the high school version of the derby after Josh’s 2014 appearance and Toronto-born catcher Andrew Yerzy’s in 2015. All three made it past the eight-player semifinal and into the final round, which takes place during TV breaks at the MLB home run derby. Josh lost his final while Yerzy tied his.

Noah hit two homers Monday after crushing 15 in the semi at Marlins Park a day earlier. Josh, who hadn’t seen his brother since before spring training, was there for both rounds.

“I got chills from the bench,” Josh said Tuesday night from San Antonio, the home of San Diego’s double-A affiliate. “I was recording him and just saw his whole future in front of him. I’m so incredibly proud of him. It’s insane, he’s so special.”

The 20-year-old Josh, selected 12th overall by the Marlins in 2015 before being traded to the Padres, was the first Naylor to crack the professional ranks but likely not the last.

Noah, a standout on the junior national team and Ontario Blue Jays, is shaping up to be the top Canadian selected at the 2018 draft. Then there’s 12-year-old Myles, who had to miss his brothers’ all-star events for his own baseball tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Naylors inherited their passion for the sport from their father Chris, who now coaches Myles’s team. Chris never played at a high level but made sure to enrol his kids in baseball when they were just three years old.

“We all fell in love with it right away, just like our dad did,” Noah said.

While Chris often gets the credit for the Naylors’ baseball success, Noah was quick to point out that his mother Jenice has been influential in his playing career as well.

Jenice was in Miami along with the boys’ aunt and grandmother to see them in action. And when they finished, she boarded a plane to New York to catch the tail end of Myles’s tournament.

“I really appreciate them coming here and it’s something I’ll never forget,” Noah said. “I know my Aunt Jackie and my grandma and my mom, they think they don’t get enough credit but it means a lot that they’re so involved and so close with me.”

Josh feels the same way.

“They made sacrifices to come out and watch us play and I’m so glad they did,” he said. “We all had a great time in Miami and I’m sad it’s over but new things are ahead for all of us.”

For Noah, that next big thing is playing in the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park in August, the same premier high school event his brother competed in in 2014.

Josh will keep busy, too. The Padres promoted the burly first baseman from high-A to double-A Tuesday afternoon.

Orioles prospect Adam Hall, who played with Josh and Noah separately on the junior national team, believes they have what it takes to succeed going forward.

“Obviously they can both hit the ball a long way and they have a great feel and approach at the plate, but another thing that makes them stand out is their desire to be the best,” said Hall, Baltimore’s second-round pick in the 2017 draft.

“They won’t settle for anything less and I think that’s a big reason for the success they’ve had so far.”

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