As a seventh-round pick, infielder Jake Noll has had to prove himself at each level. But the way he sees it, he was drafted highly enough to be given that opportunity.
“I could’ve gone higher, but I also could’ve gone lower,” said Noll, who is one of only two players selected in the seventh round of the 2016 draft to have already reached the majors. “At least I’ve always been a starter. When you’re a starter, you have that chance to go out there and do the job.”
That’s what the 25-year-old Florida Gulf Coast alum has done throughout his career, including this spring, when he played his way on to the Nationals’ Opening Day roster. Not only does Noll look a lot like Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, but he also hit like a major leaguer this spring as he posted a .314/.386/.510 slash line in 51 at-bats.
“Jake took advantage of his opportunity this spring training and impressed our staff both at the plate and with his ability to play multiple positions,” farm director Mark Scialabba said. “With some early success, his confidence grew, and he realized he belonged.”
Noll went 0-for-2 in his first three major league games before recording a walk-off walk against the Phillies righthander David Robertson on April 4. Later that day, he was sent to Triple-A Fresno.
“I kind of knew it was coming with Howie Kendrick coming back from injury,” Noll said. “So now I’m just getting used to playing every day again and really focusing and playing different positions.”
Noll, who hit .291/.341/.412 in 502 at-bats between high Class A Potomac and Double-A Harrisburg last season, had never been to California before joining Fresno. Within a week, he had hit his first Triple-A homer and played three infield positions.
“Last year, all the way through the Arizona Fall League, he worked extremely hard on his defense at third base—improving his first-step quickness, hands, technique, arm strength and accuracy,” Scialabba said. “He now has the ability to play second, third, first and can also go to the outfield as well. He certainly has improved his stock and has established himself as part of our major league depth.”
— Harrisburg righthander Erick Fedde, lefthander Jordan Mills and righthander Aaron Barrett combined on the first no-hitter of the minor league season. Fedde pitched six innings, Mills two and Barrett one in a 2-0 win at Bowie.