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Drafted out of Florida Gulf Coast University in the 7th Round of the 2016 Draft, Jake Noll put up impressive numbers at the start of his fourth year in the organization, in Spring Training in 2019, going 16 for 51 (.314/.386/.510), with four doubles, two home runs, five walks, and 10 Ks in 27 games, and the Nationals rewarded that effort with a spot on Washington’s Opening Day roster.
While there were some injury issues which opened up opportunities, GM Mike Rizzo said Noll made it at least in part because the team, “… wanted to show our younger players too that Spring Training counts.”
“He kind of forced our hand to keep him on the team, and to make the club and that’s what young players have to strive to do, is to make things impossible for us to send them back to the minors.”
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Noll was coming off a 2018 campaign split between High-A Potomac and AA Harrisburg, in which he put up a combined .291/.341/.412 line with 20 doubles and 11 home runs over 132 games and 549 plate appearances, and he went to the Arizona Fall League when the minor league season ended, where Rizzo got a good look at the then-24-year-old infielder, who went 13 for 49 (.265/.309/.429) with two doubles and two homers over 13 games and 55 PAs in AFL action.
“He got an invite to big league camp for a reason off of his season in 2018 and then the Arizona Fall League,” Rizzo said.
“When I saw him play out there [in Arizona], he really kind of opened my eyes that this guy could be a valuable piece for us down the road, and I think that his demeanor in the clubhouse and the way that he handled himself on the field with the veterans, and then came out and showed early in Spring Training that he could really hit the fastball, he could hit velocity.”
Noll got just eight games and 13 PAs, going 2 for 12 in the majors before he returned to the minors, where he went 130 for 456 (.285/.327/.410), with 24 doubles and 11 home runs for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies.
With no minor league season in 2020, Noll spent most of the past summer at the Alternate Training Site in Fredericksburg, VA, before the Nationals called him back up to the big leagues in September, but the now-26-year-old said he actually did not mind the repetitive nature of life in Virginia.
“I honestly might be one of the only people who didn’t mind it too much,” Noll said once he was called up.
“Obviously I’d rather be here in D.C., but it wasn’t the worst place. Great opportunity to get better, and work on stuff, and I tried to make the most out of it, so.”