Sayreville’s Naylor signs on with the Cardinals

Sayreville native Keith Naylor, a two-year starting outfielder for the New Jersey City University baseball team, has signed a professional free agent minor league baseball contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Naylor signed his free agent deal on Monday, when he left for Johnson City, Tenn., where he will play rookie ball for the Johnson City Cardinals in the 10-team Appalachian League of professional baseball clubs. The 56-game regular season schedule runs from June 21 through Aug. 30.

Naylor is the second NJCU player to sign a free agent contract in the past three seasons, following in the footsteps of Jonathan Thomas (Newark), who was inked by the Kansas City Royals in June 2004. Thomas spent two years playing for the Arizona Royals, and is now a second baseman for the Newark Bears.

Overall, Naylor becomes the eighth NJCU player drafted or signed to a professional free agent baseball contract since 1976.

The speedy Naylor, the only senior on the 2006 NJCU club, batted .258 for NJCU this season while playing in 37 of 40 games, including 36 starts. The versatile outfielder saw action in center field in 28 games, while playing a handful of contests in right and left fields. He also served as the designated hitter in five games.

While handling duties in the third and cleanup spots in the lineup, he led the team in home runs (4) and RBIs (25). He collected 33 hits (33-for-128), 53 total bases and scored 22 runs, while stealing 10 bases in 11 attempts. He added two doubles and three triples, with a .331 on-base and .414 slugging percentage. Naylor led the team in multiple-RBI games (8) and contributed nine multi-hit efforts.

In addition to leading NJCU in RBIs and home runs, Naylor broke the single-season record by being hit by 13 pitches, which ranked second in the New Jersey Athletic Conference. He ranked among the leaders in nine major categories for the Gothic Knights (15-25), including listing second in steals, tied for second in runs, third in hits and total bases, tied for third in triples, and fourth in slugging.

In just 49 games over two seasons for NJCU, he ranks tied for sixth in school history in career hit by pitches (14) and tied for ninth in home runs (6).

Naylor served as a team co-captain as a junior in 2005, but missed most of the season with injuries. Despite only playing in 12 games that season, he managed to hit two home runs in only 39 at bats.

A June 2001 graduate of Sayreville War Memorial High School in Sayreville, where he played baseball, Naylor transferred to NJCU in 2004 from Middlesex County College after a stint at Allegheny College.

Naylor is the second member of his family to play minor league baseball. His older brother, Martesse Robinson, previously enjoyed a professional baseball career before becoming a scout.