After being drafted this past June, all Ryan Noda did was put his name firmly on the Blue Jays map with a strong offensive showing
The Blue Jays drafted Ryan Noda in the 15th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. When we talked with him on JFtC Radio, we asked him about his draft day. He was out watching his sister’s softball game, when he saw his name on the Draft Tracker. Since that day when he was in the stands at a softball game, he has had a whirlwind season.
After signing his pro deal, he began raking in Bluefield, West Virginia and hasn’t looked back. The product of the University of Cincinnati is a lefty hitting, first base (and occasional outfielder) 21 year old who stands 6’3″ and brought some serious offensive production to the Bluefield Blue Jays’ lineup.
Noda showed some power, hitting a home run every 30.6 at bats, for a total of seven in 66 games. He also hit 18 doubles. His ISO of .210 is rather impressive. However, what might grab more attention is his ability to get on base. Reaching base in over half your at bats is rather good, in case the .507 OBP mark didn’t catch your eye. He had almost as many walks as he did strike outs, which is something that the organization should like about him.
In the 9 games after signing, Noda made his selection look like a stroke of genius. In 35 at bats, he would hit for a line of .426/.459/.714, with the majority of his time hitting his way on base. He walked twice in those 9 games. He hit for 25 total bases. It was definitely a good start to pro ball in the Blue Jays system.
All he did in 28 July games is show he was even more comfortable at the plate as he eclipsed the previous month’s performance. He would collect 40 hits (62 total bases), score 32 runs, 9 doubles, 3 HR, 15 RBI while walking 29 times and striking out just 20. He also stole five bases. His July OPS was a robust 1.269, a mark almost a full .100 above his June mark.
The 29 August game saw Noda’s average slip to .258 as he hit 23 times with 7 doubles and 2 HR. What is interesting to note is that he actually drove in more runs (19) in August than the previous two. While his average took a dip, his on base ability didn’t fall as dramatically. Obviously, if you’re not hitting as much, you’re not getting on base as much. But, his .450 OBP is very likable.
As a left handed hitter, one would expect that Noda might have had issues facing pitchers of the same handedness. And, that might hold true, but not in the way you might expect:
|vs RHP as LHB||64||217||65||15||7||33||44||49||.378||.507||.610||1.117||4|
|vs LHP as LHB||34||59||13||3||6||15||11||.310||.508||.429||.937|
|2 outs, RISP||48||66||20||6||1||15||16||9||.400||.545||.580||1.125||3|
Sure, his numbers were better against right handed pitching, but there is no way we can call a .937 OPS against lefties a difficulty. He got on base just as much against righties. He did not hit a single home run off a lefty pitcher, though.
As well, if you are into the idea of a guy being “clutch”. Noda certainly showed an ability to hunker down and be productive with runners in scoring position and 2 outs. His OPS of 1.125 would indicate him ‘rising to the occasion’ as it were.
Noda was helped out by a very generous BABIP in his first season. According to the Baseball Cube, Noda’s 2017 BABIP was…wait for it…ahem .470! the easiest way to explain BABIP is to call it luck (ya gotta be lucky to be good and good to be lucky, right?). If we go with that definition, Noda may have been playing with horseshoes for cleats, a rabbit’s foot in his back pocket after having gone to McDonald’s for a shamrock shake. That’s the kind of “luck” we’re talking about. Sure, good, solid contact might have had a little something to do with this.
While his bat was enough to make the front office take notice, his glove work was not too shabby either. He saw some time in CF and in LF. Those mostly came as he was shifted there later in games, but 7 starts came in RF. He started at 1B 48 games and made 5 errors. He didn’t make a single error in the outfield.
Projecting where Ryan Noda will go in 2018 can be a bit tricky. He showed that hitting in the Appalachian League was a relatively easy task for him. So, with numbers like above, one might think that a jump to Dunedin might be in order. But, bypassing Lansing might be a bit of a stretch. Jays From the Couch MiLB guru, Ryan Mueller, thinks that he’ll go to Lansing and see more time at DH with Kacy Clemens possibly taking more reps at first due to his better glove.
With numbers like this, DH might be a good spot for him. Or, the club could look to capitalize on his outfield ability if there is too much competition at 1B. What we wouldn’t want to see is a prospect relegated to the DH role. The way baseball is going, the DH spot is not what it used to be. Teams want a guy who can be more than a one trick pony.
The Baseball Draft Report had this to say about Noda:
[He] is an underrated athlete with plus raw power and unique (gloveless) swing mechanics. I’ve gone back and forth about his best position in pro ball — his experience in the outfield and strong arm could give him a shot there depending on what team he lands with — but ultimately went with first base for reasons both good (he’s quite strong there defensively) and practical (physically, he looks more like a first baseman than a corner outfielder).
His bat will play as he moves forward. It remains to be seen just where the organization feels his glove is a best fit. What will they do to keep his bat in a lineup? He certainly can stick at first base for the foreseeable future, but sometimes those decisions have nothing to do with the player themselves. Sometimes, it comes down to organizational needs.
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