The Blue Jays announced today that 1B/OF Ryan Noda, the club’s 15th round pick in 2017, has been declared the Player to Be Named Later in the deal that brought RHP Ross Stripling to the club from the Dodgers last season. Noda, along with RHP Kendall Williams, went to Los Angeles in the deal.
Noda has been a polarizing prospect for some, a guy who shows true three outcome potential. He burst onto the scene in 2017, a day two guy whose draft stock had dropped, but had the Blue Jays convinced there was something in his game worth selecting him. Typically, a college player would head to Vancouver of the Northwest League (before this season, of course) after being drafted, but 8th rounder Kacy Clemens was ahead of him on the depth chart. So, Noda headed to Bluefield, where he laid waste to Appy League pitching, leading the loop in hitting, OBP, and Slugging, and was named the league MVP in the process.
Noda headed to full season ball in Lansing the following year, and while he wasn’t able to duplicate his stats in rookie ball, he put in a solid season (.905 OPS, 20 HRs) for the Lugnuts at the plate, and showed some versatility in the field, splitting time between 1st and LF, where he played adequate defence.
The knock against Noda at Lansing had been his passivity. Noda’s ABs were fun to watch, as he often delivered master classes in patience. Noda liked to work deep into counts, but pitchers at High A Dunedin began to take advantage of that in 2019. The Blue Jays, for their part, wanted him to become more aggressive, as they felt that he was missing out on some very drivable pitches early in the count by being so selective. A pull happy approach also didn’t help.
Noda is a fringe MLB prospect, a left-handed bat who can get on base, and shows some power potential. He’s never been a top prospect, but he’s always been an intriguing one. A change in his approach might help him more consistently tap into his power.
Blue Jays minor league hitting coach Matt Young had Noda at Lansing, and admitted that he worked on trying to get Noda to change his approach:
Ryan and I battled a lot this year and – battled I think maybe is a strong word, but we had some long talks this year. I felt like early in the year he was looking to walk instead of earning his walks, and I think that everybody in baseball saw what happened when Ryan was aggressive early. That happened in June. When June hit, we made a deal: You’re going to be a little more aggressive instead of instead of as selective and passive as he was.
Noda ranked as high as 19th on Baseball America’s top prospects list after the 2018 season. He perhaps had gone as far as he was going to go in the Toronto system, and now gets a chance for a fresh start in L.A.