- In 2009, Naquin graduated from Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas. He hit .441 with 13 home runs and was all-state.His batting averages from his sophomore (.442), junior (.441) and senior (.439) years at Klein Collins High in Spring, Texas, are the top three in school history.
- Growing up in the Houston area, Naquin rooted for the Astros.
In 2009, Tyler was the Orioles' 33rd-round pick in the draft. But he did not sign, instead accepting a baseball scholarship to Texas A&M, majoring in kinesiology.
- In 2012, Naquin hit .380 with the Aggies, with 18 doubles, six triples, three home runs, 49 RBIs and 21 stolen bases in 61 games.
June 2012: The Indians chose Naquin with their first round pick in the draft—the 15th player picked overall.
And Tyler signed with scout Kyle Van Hook, just 10 days later for $1.75 million, $500,000 below the $2.25 million value assigned to the 15th overall pick.
"I couldn't fathom the thought of a guy out of college getting $1.75 million and trying to bug the team for a little more when not everybody in the draft is getting that slot number because of the new [CBA]," said Naquin. "I was able to get a lot of money, and I thought, 'Hey, if they want to give me that much money, I'm going to go out and start playing so I can get up to the Indians and help the big ballclub as soon as I can."
- Naquin enjoys fishing, hunting, family and friends in his spare time.
- The biggest part of his development may have come from the hours he spent out at a creek near his childhood home.
“My dad would cut broomsticks for me and I’d go down to the creek after school and hit rocks for hours with my best friend, Mitch,” Naquin said. “I get a lot of hits on a lot of crappy pitches and people ask me how and I’m just like, ‘Dude, I can’t tell you how many bad rocks my buddy threw me and I just went down and smoked ’em.’ ”
Off the field. Naquin likes to keep things loose. He will often lighten the mood by making everyone. They laugh at his antics.
"It's been impressive," said Akron manager Dave Wallace in June 2015. "Tyler is a great balance of keeping things light and fun but also including hard work. It's a special trait. He's obviously got the talent, but he's got the work ethic and the mind-set to go with it.
"He's himself. He doesn't try to be anybody else," said Wallace. "He's comfortable in his own skin. He loves playing the game, the atmosphere of the whole season. That's what you want to see out of your guys."
Tyler’s father, Ken, built a diamond for his youth-league team on the family’s property alongside Spring Creek. “When you can go a hundred yards from your home to home plate with a wheelbarrow full of your baseball equipment, that’s nice,” he said.
In 2013, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Naquin as the third-best prospect in the Indians organization. He was at 4th-best in the winter before 2014 spring training.
Early in 2016, they had Tyler as 6th-best prospect in the Tribe farm system.
Naquin compares himself to Jacoby Ellsbury.
Tyler is a bit of a throwback player with a lot of passion for the game. He plays the game hard, no matter what the score is. He never takes an at-bat off.
In addition to talent, he has an immense desire to improve and a willingness to make the adjustments needed to maximize his potential.
Naquin is comfortable in his own skin. He is himself. "Tyler is a great balance of keeping things light and fun but also including hard work. It's a special trait. He's obviously got the talent, but he's got the work ethic and the mind-set to go with it," Akron manager Dave Wallace said in 2015. "He loves playing the game."
- Naquin makes 2016 Opening Day roster: The Indians haven't started a rookie on Opening Day since catcher Andy Allanson in 1986. But with presumed starter Abraham Almonte suspended, Naquin hit .397 with four home runs this spring—a performance that made him a candidate to win "Swing of the Day" every day. That kind of performance, both in numbers and approach, made a tough decision much easier for manager Terry Francona and GM Mike Chernoff.
Tyler will never forget the feeling of seeing his name in the Indians' lineup for the first time. That moment arrived on April 6, 2016. There he was, penciled into the order as Cleveland's starting center fielder. That sheet of paper hanging on the clubhouse wall represented a lifelong dream realized. Then he went out and got his first hit in the first at-bat of his first start—he lined a single to right field off Red Sox Clay Buchholz.
“I didn’t even feel myself touch first base,” Naquin said. “It was a very exciting moment for myself and my family.”
The breast cancer is gone. Roanna Naquin saw to that when she opted to undergo a bilateral mastectomy in November. After two scares in five years, she wanted the peace of mind. Most of all, she wanted to feel mentally and physically ready in time for baseball season.
This was going to be a big year for her youngest son, Indians rookie Tyler Naquin, and she was not going to let health stand in her way. He fought for a job in Spring Training and Roanna was there. He made Cleveland's roster for Opening Day. She was there. Cancer was not going to take that away. She proved that back in 2011, when she watched from a wheelchair as her boy played in the College World Series for Texas A&M.
Only a handful of follow-up procedures remain now. During a recent appointment, her doctor suggested May 10 as a possible date for another minor surgery. "I said, 'Oh no we won't,'" Roanna Naquin says with a laugh. "For heaven's sake, not then."
The Indians will be in Houston for a three-game series through May 11, marking what could be a big homecoming for Naquin in his first big league season. Roanna has already been overwhelmed with phone calls, texts and e-mails from people wanting to be there to see Naquin play in his home state, and roughly a 25-mile drive from where he starred at Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas.
Tyler cracks a smile when asked about his mom's drive to be there for as many of his games as possible. From the time he played for the Awesome Ducks, a T-ball team assembled by a group of fathers at a Texas church, and throughout his collegiate and Minor League seasons, Roanna has been there for him.
"When I was about 12 or so, she worked 45 minutes away, close to Houston," Tyler said. "It'd be, like, a Wednesday night and she'd drive back home, get me, and then drive me another 35-45 minutes back out to the park. We did that for years. She was at every game." (Bastian - MLB.com - 5/4/16)
Naquin's admiration for his mom extends beyond baseball, though. Roanna survived breast cancer in 2011, but the disease fought back again in the fall of 2015. In August 2015, while Tyler was playing for Triple-A Columbus, another breast cancer scare led Roanna back to the doctor. Nothing alarming was found in the initial tests, but she was tired of feeling frightened and worrying about every six-month checkup. Roanna decided to be proactive and have the double mastectomy done, even after the surgeon said it might have been an overly aggressive approach.
In the wake of the 11-hour procedure on Nov. 16, Roanna's doctor informed her that Stage 2 cancer was found on her left side during surgery. It had gone undetected in numerous tests leading up to the operation. Had she not gone through with the procedure, it might not have been discovered for another six months. "I can't tell you how many mammograms and MRIs and ultrasounds I've had," Roanna said. "No one saw anything on my left side. It wasn't even a concern. It was a blessing that I did it."
Naquin and his older brother, Zac, were there for their mom in the hospital. "She's just tough. Tough as nails, man. It's amazing," Tyler said. "You go see her after she had her double mastectomy, and she can barely even move. It's just me and my brother growing up, so me and him are extremely protective. It's hard seeing her do that.
"Whenever a nurse had to come in there and move her and she's crying, me and Zac were sitting there, and your hands are sweating, because you feel like, 'Give us that pain. Don't put that on her.' But, she's tough as nails and just keeps on fighting."
Roanna, who works in the dental field, is back to work full-time and is able to drive a car again. For that May 2016 series in Houston, Roanna has helped point family and friends to a section of seats out near the bullpen at Minute Maid Park. The young outfielder's fans will be out in force, cheering loudly for each at-bat. Throughout Naquin's playing days, Roanna hasn't been one for making much noise from the stands. She will probably not be too interested in small talk this time, either.
"I want to go watch Ty play ball," Roanna said. "When I'm at a game, I'm watching ball. I'm not a talker. I don't want to chitty-chat." After all, Roanna will have endured a lot in order to be there for that moment. She wants to savor it. (Bastian - MLB.com - 5/4/16)
June/July 2016: Naquin became the first Indians player to win the AL Rookie of the Month twice in the same season.
- On August 19, 2016, Tyler produced one of the Cleveland franchise’s most memorable moments on Aug. 19 last year when he became the first Indians player in 100 years to hit a walk-off inside-the-park home run.
Naquin earned the American League’s rookie-of-the-month distinction in June and July. Overall, he hit .296/.372/.514 with 14 home runs in 116 games and finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
But there were signs late in the year that opposing pitchers had found some holes in Naquin’s swing. He hit just .193 in August. In his last 22 games, 11 in the regular season and the 11 in the postseason, he hit .208 with no home runs, three RBIs and 25 strikeouts in 53 at-bats.
March 18, 2017: Tyler Naquin was a teenager when Grady Sizemore was patrolling center field and emerging as a young star for the Indians. When Naquin watched Sizemore play, he saw the kind of player he envisioned himself developing into someday. "I grew up watching him," Naquin said. "People would kind of say, 'You kind of run into the wall like Sizemore.'"
This spring, Naquin headed into camp fresh off a standout rookie campaign as Cleveland's center fielder, and Sizemore put on his coach's hat and joined the fold as an advisor to player development. In working with the outfielders each morning, Sizemore has formed a strong relationship with Naquin, offering another set of eyes and ears for the young outfielder.
Naquin said he has appreciated the bond that has taken shape with Sizemore. They have worked on defensive techniques, talked hitting and discussed plenty of other aspects of being a big league center fielder.
"I've got nothing but good things to say about Grady," Naquin said. "First time I met him and I feel like I've known him for years and years. I think anybody would vouch for that. Grady's just a good dude on and off the field. But on the field, the man's got a couple Gold Gloves. The way he played the game. It's similar -- going all out.
"He's helpful, because he's still at that age to where I can relate to him as a player. He's fresh off the field. I wish Grady wasn't even here. I wish he was still playing. But, being able to have him is awesome -- absolutely awesome."
"I definitely see a lot of similarities," said Sizemore, asked if he sees a little of himself in Cleveland's current center fielder. "He's just getting started. It's fun to kind of be a part of that and just try to help him out and really just kind of be there for him to kind of pick my brain and work through stuff." (J Bastian - MLB.com - March 18, 2017)