Name: Drew Naylor
DOB: 5/31/86 (25 as of April 1, 2012)
Weight: 233 lbs
Acquired: signed as amateur free agent, 2004 (undisclosed bonus)
Pre Draft Report: Drew Naylor was signed out of Australia in 2004. He spent two years in the Australian Baseball Academy before making his debut in the States. He came from an athletic background as his father played professional rugby for two years. Naylor was primarily interested in Australian Rules Football in high school before making the switch to baseball. He first drew the attention of U.S. scouts in the national championships and got offers from the Blue Jays, Marlins, and Indians before signing with the Phils. He threw a mid-to-high 80s fastball and was something of a projectability signing with thoughts of adding strength and weight to his lanky frame.
Career Synopsis: Naylor made his debut with the GCL Phillies in 2006 at age 20. Working primarily out of the bullpen, he compiled relatively modest 5.4 K/9 and 2.44 K/BB ratios over 36.2 innings. 2007 was a much more successful season, as Naylor made 14 starts for Williamsport. He led the NYPL in strikeouts (97) and innings (93.1) and pitched more than six innings in all but one of his 14 starts. His K rate increased to 9.4 and is K/BB ratio increased to 3.46. He was an NYPL midseason all-star, then pitched in the Hawaiian Winter League.
Naylor debuted in BA’s Phillies prospect rankings in 2008 at #29. The season was split between Lakewood and Clearwater. He was effective in Lakewood compiling a sub-3.00 ERA, 10.0 K/9, and 4.62 K/BB over 14 starts. However, the jump to Clearwater was not as successful based primarily on a plummeting strikeout rate and the highest walk rate of his career.
In 2009, Naylor rose to 13th in BA’s rakings of Phillies prospects. He began the season making an appearance for Australia in the WBC before repeating Hi-A at Clearwater. The season was a mixed bag as he led the FSL in complete games, tied for first in innings pitched, and was eighth in strikeouts. He had a 3.15 ERA across 23 of his appearances but got pounded in his other three starts, leaving him with a 4.22 ERA for the year. While he got his walk rate back in line with career norms, his strikeout rate remained mired below 7.0.
By 2010, Naylor had fallen out of BA’s rankings. His season was spent at Reading, where his strikeout rate fell closer to 6.0 and his K/BB ratio crept down towards 2.5.
Naylor had Tommy John surgery in June 2011 without pitching an inning. The Phillies released him after designating him for assignment in September, but Baseball America reported that he was re-signed in October.
Scouting Report: Below is an assessment of Naylor’s raw tools, rated on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale. The grades are my estimation based on what I’ve read and those I’ve talked to. The second number is a future projection, the first number is the current assessment
Upside: Naylor had seemingly stalled out even before his TJS. He had a slow, steady climb through the system, but never stood out as a high end guy. Still, there was a chance of some spot starts or a couple of years as a swingman. Now, at 25 and coming off surgery, the majors is as far away as ever. The Phillies re-signed him, and it would be a feel-good story to see him salvage his career, but it’s a longshot that Naylor ever dons the red pinstripes at CBP.
Naylor has a somewhat complex delivery and kind of whips his arm in a loop after he breaks his hands. I’m not a pitching mechanics expert, but those extra moving parts in his delivery could make it tough for him to show consistent timing and command. He doesn’t get a ton of drive out of his lower half, which could contribute to cutting off some of his velocity. He has a high arm slot, which means his fastball doesn’t have a ton of movement on it. He used to “pinch” his shoulder blades together in a more pronounced manner (see his profile picture), but hes quieted this down a bit in the last year, which is a promising sign for his long term health.