Power shortage led to Naylor pick

MIAMI — As a 15-year-old, Josh Naylor crushed a ball 457 feet at Marlins Park in a youth home run contest. We’re talking Marlins Park, where 400 foot drives routinely become outs.

When you possess that kind of power, it is hard to overlook. And the Marlins didn’t do so, selecting Naylor, now 17, with the 12th pick in Monday’s Draft.

For a franchise desperate for power, the pick made sense. To other, it was a reach, mainly because Naylor was not projected to be taken in the first round. MLB.com, for instance, ranked the first baseman from Canada as the 59th overall player available.

Did Naylor go too high? Maybe. Perhaps a safer, more rounded player could have been outfielder Garrett Whitley, who went one pick later to the Rays.

Bottom line with the Draft is, you never know. It’s not like the NFL Draft where first-rounders are college seasoned and many are ages 20-23 when selected. NFL teams have a better idea of what they’re getting.

More projection is involved in baseball. Naylor, for instance, turns 18 on June 22.

With Miami, we do know he fills a need. Regardless of if he went in the first or second round, the Marlins have a short supply of power in their system. Power was scarce in the Draft. So Naylor fit what the Marlins were seeking. Besides, there is no guarantee first-round position players will strike it big anyway.

The Marlins are well aware of that. Jeremy Hermida (2002), Matt Dominguez (2007), Kyle Skipworth (2008) and Colin Moran (2013) were all regarded as pure hitters with power potential when they were picked. None panned out. Moran, now in Double-A with the Astros, has yet to show power.

The biggest slugger the Marlins ever drafted happens to be their all-time home run leader, Giancarlo Stanton.

Stanton was a second-round choice in 2007, going 76th overall.

If Naylor develops into a middle of the lineup threat, then he is worth it.

Left-handed power also is in short supply in the big leagues. So while Naylor doesn’t offer much speed, and he appears limited to first base, he potentially can change a game with one swing.

We do know across Major League Baseball, home runs are down, especially from left-handed hitters.

Here’s a look at the home run leaders since 2012, the year Marlins Park opened.

Right-handed batters

1. Miguel Cabrera 125
2. Edwin Encarnacion 124
3. Giancarlo Stanton 117
4. Nelson Cruz/Mike Trout 109
5. Adam Jones 103
6. Jose Bautista 101
7. Chris Carter 92
8. Adrian Beltre/Paul Goldschmidt 91
9. Albert Pujols 90
10. Mark Trumbo 89

Left-handed batters

1. Chris Davis 124
2. Adam Dunn 97
3. David Ortiz 94
4. Pedro Alvarez 93
5. Jay Bruce 91
6. Adam LaRoche/Brandon Moss 86
7. Anthony Rizzo 81
8. Adrian Gonzalez/Curtis Granderson 78
9. Robinson Cano/Josh Hamilton/Kyle Seager 76
10. Freddie Freeman/Bryce Harper 74

Joe Frisaro

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