For those who may have missed it on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced that they have acquired first baseman/outfielder Ryan Noda as the final player to be named in the Ross Stripling trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The deal was originally orchestrated in the waning moments of last season’s Aug. 31 trade deadline. Initially, the Dodgers were to receive two PTBNL from the Blue Jays, but 20-year-old righty starting pitcher Kendall Williams was sent to Los Angeles in the first installment of the trade. The arrival of Noda finishes the deal.
Believe it or not, Noda fits perfectly into the Los Angeles mix, at least from a perspective of balance. In previous columns, we discussed the older, journeyman outfielders in the system like DJ Peters, Zach Reks and Luke Raley, whose MLB clocks might conceivably be ticking. Conversely, there are some up-and-comers around like 20-year-old Andy Pages, 19-year-old Jake Vogel and 18-year-old Luis Rodriguez, but their respective big-league arrivals might be several more years away.
The good thing about Noda is that he falls somewhere in between all these players at 24 years of age. And, as an added bonus, he is more than comfortable at handling the duties at first base.
The 6-foot-3, 217-lb. lefty hitting and lefty throwing Noda was selected by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2017 MLB draft out of the University of Cincinnati.
His best season in the minors was perhaps his first year in the Toronto system in 2017, when he slashed .364/.507/.575 in Low-A rookie ball, producing a very impressive 1.082 OPS.
In 2018, his power surge began when he hit a total of 20 homers in the Midwest League after hitting just seven the previous season. In 2019, he slugged 13 homers, but tacked on 27 doubles to his stat line.
Although his batting averages have been trending downward, his knack for getting on base is brilliant. As mentioned, his OBP in 2017 was an insane .507, but he also posted OBP marks of .421 and .372 in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
In 124 games for Class-A Lansing in 2018, he tallied a whopping 109 walks.
To boot, he has stolen 14 bases in each of the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Obviously, Noda will not make an impact at the big-league level anytime soon, but he could eventually challenge Reks, Peters and Raley for the top outfield spots at Triple-A, especially if he continues to hit for power.
Theoretically, Noda might have the eventual edge because of his overall better defensive skills along with his versatility to cover first base.
While he’ll probably begin his 2021 campaign at Double-A Tulsa, he could move up to Oklahoma City in a timely fashion, especially if the organization finally gives Peters a chance to take some hacks in the majors.