Major League Baseball heads into the annual All-Star Break to celebrate the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, as is tradition every July. For MLB DFS lineup purposes, those contests are an absolute crapshoot. For us 2022 fantasy baseball managers, it’s a nice break but not one where we should hibernate entirely. We are allowed an opportunity to examine our fantasy baseball lineups and see where we can improve or put some MLB top prospects under a microscope. The catcher position in fantasy baseball is difficult to project. It doesn’t allow for as much roster flexibility as outfield or either of the starting/relief pitcher position spots. There aren't as many viable fantasy baseball waiver wire targets at the catcher spot either. This weekly article has profiled a handful of players throughout the season but heading into a week of quiet and calm, I want to examine a player that nobody is really talking about. That’s Bo Naylor of the Cleveland Guardians for the latest Fantasy Baseball Player Spotlight. Naylor could be rising up fantasy baseball rankings and MLB projections soon enough and it's time to get to know the catcher prospect.



Bo Naylor has been a tough player to project. Early on in his minor league career it appeared as if he was selling out too much for power. But he’s learned to let the game naturally and organically come to him at the plate. Here are his stat lines across his career in the minor leagues but look closely at what he’s done this year:

  • 2018: Rookie Ball - .274/.381/.402 with two home runs, 17 runs scored, 17 RBI
  • 2019: A-Ball: .243/.313/.421 with 11 home runs, 60 runs scored, 65 RBI (23% strikeout ate, 9% walk rate)
  • 2021: Double-A - .188/.280/.332 with ten home runs, 41 runs scored, 44 RBI (31.5% strikeout rate, 10.4% walk rate)
  • 2022: Double-A - .271/.427/.471 with six home runs, 29 runs scored, 21 RBI (20.9% strikeout rate, 20.5% walk rate) in 52 games
  • 2022: Triple-A - .308/.459/.554 with four home runs, 14 runs scored, 15 RBI (23.5% strikeout rate, 18.8% walk rate) in 19 games

2022 stands out significantly. It appeared as if early on in his youth he was trying to sell out too much for power and throwing plate discipline out the window. Now it appears that he’s changed his approach and taken what opposing pitchers are giving to him. Entering Sunday in 71 games across Double-and-Triple-A he has ten home runs and he’s driving in plenty of runners. The plate discipline (strikeout and walk rates) may not translate in the big leagues but a player adjusting his plate discipline in the minors is a good sign if they’re on the trajectory for a big-league call up.

A big narrative the Cleveland Guardians could push to sell tickets would be to call up Bo Naylor to unite him with his brother, Josh Naylor. But the Guardians aren’t necessarily in a position to sell tickets as a flailing team that’s out of the playoff chase. 

The Guardians are far from out of the playoff hunt. They’re very much in the mix for the AL Central crown as well as a Wild Card spot. Sunday’s game against the Tigers was postponed but the Guardians currently sit two games above .500 and they’re 2.5 games out of the divisional lead while they’re also 2.5 games out of an AL Wild Card spot.

Per Bo Naylor’s exact words “We put a lot of focus into my lower half, making sure I’m being grounded, generating power midway through my swing and letting everything up to follow,” and that has paid off greatly in the lower levels. Can it transition to the big leagues? His own brother has told him to approach the transition from Double-A to Triple-A should remain the same, but embrace the talent at the new level. It features plenty of top prospects (of which Bo Naylor could be considered as one), veterans bouncing between the big leagues and minor leagues, and plenty of journeymen players. It’s a great opportunity to continue to learn, develop, and get better.

Obviously, Bo and Josh Naylor are both pulling for Bo to get to the big leagues sooner rather than later. And the catcher position is certainly one the Guardians are weak at. Bo didn’t crack MLB’s Top 100 Prospects but if he’s held down for the remainder of the year then he’s due to crack the list in 2023. However, if the Guardians are looking to make a solid postseason push then it’s possible they give Naylor the call. 

As it stands with the current catchers on the Cleveland Guardians roster, Austin Hedges and Luke Maile are both hitting under .200 without a lot of power since they both possess slugging percentages under .300 and that means the organization could look to either make a move or promote from within. If we’re all thinking with our brains and not reacting with our hearts, it might be too early to call up Bo Naylor. We have to keep in mind he’s only 22 years old and it’s far more likely that he gets the call in 2023. But if the Guardians don’t make a big move at the trade deadline there will be plenty of buzz about giving him an opportunity because he can’t possibly be any worse offensively than Hedges or Maile.

It’s a fluid situation but one worth monitoring. By no means is Naylor a waiver wire acquisition at this point. If he gets the big-league call then that warrants some consideration. But how far into the deep end to the Guardians want to throw him? He might be an upgrade offensively, but we’ve seen him for just a couple cups of coffee at Triple-A. Cleveland’s trade deadline decisions could pave the way for a move so keep an ear to the ground over the next two weeks.



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