Jake Noll’s name came up repeatedly when prospects from Washington’s Alternate Training Site in Fredericksburg, Virginia talked about the tough at bats the Nationals’ minor leaguer put up against them as they all worked out and faced one another on a regular basis in the simulated games and live BPs they held this summer.
“I’ve had some struggles with Jake Noll recently,” 2019 1st Round pick Jackson Rutledge said in a September 12th Zoom call.
“He’s hitting the ball really well off of everybody, and he’s one of those guys that I think I had an 11-12 pitch at bat against, just fouls pitches off and really works to continue at bats.”
“The toughest at bat is I think Jake Noll. He sees me pretty well, I think. He’s a really good hitter,” 2020 1st rounder Cade Cavalli said last weekend.
“They have great stuff,” Noll told reporters in a post-game Zoom call after he played in his sixth game since being called up to the majors on September 15th.
“They’re going to pitch for a while, but coming up in the minors I always prided myself on ruining the prospect’s day.
“I’ve never really been a prospect, so for me to ruin a prospect’s day made my day, so that’s how I went about it.”
Selected by the Nationals in the 7th Round of the 2016 Draft, Noll debuted in the majors in 2019, coming off a strong Spring Training, but he ended up just playing eight games in the majors, going 2 for 12 (.167/.231/.250) in his time in the Nationals’ lineup, and finished up at Triple-A Fresno with a .285/.327/.410 line, 24 doubles, and 11 homers in 118 games and 489 plate appearances in his first exposure to Triple-A ball.
“Last year was kind of tough for me, bouncing all around, and never played out in Triple-A,” Noll said on Thursday night, after he started at first base and went 1 for 3, leaving him 5 for 14 since he was called up earlier this month.
“It’s tough out there in the beginning. I worked really hard at — at the end of the day it’s still baseball, and I think I amped myself up a little too much last year, and put a lot of pressure on myself when there really wasn’t any in general.
“I just wanted to make sure that I would be prepared when I got a call up. And just go out and play baseball.”
Getting called back up to the big leagues, after spending his summer in Fredericksburg, Noll said he’s excited about the opportunities he’s had and will get over the final days in 2020.
“It’s great. I was waiting for it all year and just kept telling myself it’s going to happen, if it’s going to happen, you’d better be ready,” Noll said.
“You’ve just got to be ready for that time, and make sure when you do get called up that I’m ready when I get here.”
“He’s got a little confidence now, he understands who he is and what he needs to do and it’s good to watch him and see him,” manager Davey Martinez said, noting reports he had received on Noll from Randy Knorr, the Triple-A manager in Fresno, who was running the camp in Fredericksburg, and what he’d seen himself when Noll was part of the Nationals’ taxi squad this season.
“I’ve just watched him — every time we brought him up with this taxi squad or whatever, I watch these guys and see how they react, and Jake goes about his day and does everything he does to prepare even when he wasn’t on the roster, and it was good to see.”
Noll said he wants to make a strong impression in the time he’s been given to contribute over the last few weeks.
“It’s a great opportunity,” the 26-year-old said.
“I’ve been waiting for this chance to prove myself and prove I belong all year. So, I’m happy to be here and just got to keep getting better and prove myself at this level.
“I know I can be here myself, I’ve just got to make other people believe it too.”