The Jays Journal staff returns with our yearly Top 30 prospect rankings. The #21 spot goes to Lansing Lugnuts first baseman Ryan Noda, a base on balls machine with impressive power to match.
Name: Ryan Noda
Position: 1B/OF Age: 22
Height: 6’3” Weight: 217 lbs
Throws: Left Bats: Left
Acquired: Drafted in the 15th round of the 2017 draft
Ryan Noda, a young, bat-first 1B/OF hybrid who spent his 2018 season with the Low-A Lansing Lugnuts, put up some stupid on-base numbers, managing a slash of .256/.421/.484 in 124 games. Currently listed as the organization’s No. 30 prospect, Noda has impressed some folks in and around the organization, earning praise from his general manager and minor league teammates.
Adding 20 home runs (third in the Midwest League) and 80 RBI (second in the league), he walked a staggering 109 times this season, which, according to Baseball Toronto’s Keegan Matheson, led all of Minor League Baseball.
Still, he struck out at a decent clip (25.6 K% in 527 PAs) and will likely rely mostly on his bat to get on base. With 14 stolen bases under his belt (and seven in 66 games with the Rookie-level Bluefield Blue Jays in 2017) he showed average speed and should be able to sprinkle some in to his game going forward.
Making contact is, weirdly, not something that Noda is particularly known or praised for. Though he did boast an incredible .421 OBP, MLB Pipeline notes that his “patient approach continues to result in elevated strikeout totals but also fuels his on-base skills”.
In a perplexing mix, Noda strikes out a lot, but also walks at an insane rate. If he can make contact just a smidge more (his .256 average left a little to be desired) than he could turn himself into an admirable all-around hitter as he approaches the higher levels.
Pipeline gave him a conservative 45 rating in the hit department, while Fangraphs observed that his “swing isn’t of the stereotypical launch angle variety”, with Noda himself positing that he’s “more even-plane than anything”, making for an interesting offensive combination.
With a discrete, yet confident powerful edge to his swing, Noda was given a 55 in power by Pipeline, with the report saying that he “has the ability to drive the ball out of the park to the opposite field”, which was evidenced by his 20 homers with Lansing.
It’s clear that power will likely be an important part of his game going forward. As a first baseman, that might not exactly be the worst thing.
A modest 45 on Pipeline, Noda stole 14 bags in 18 attempts at Lansing and stole seven in 11 attempts in 2017 with Bluefield. Though he is a great athlete, his speed isn’t exactly a part of his game that he focuses on, and with good reason.
While some more experimentation in the outfield could add to the importance of speed in his game, his decent ability to steal bases could be a quietly valuable portion of his skill set going forward. Of course, crazy amounts of speed shouldn’t be expected of him.
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A solid athlete, Noda’s glove is still developing as he experiments with his defensive capabilities. In 2018, he played 57 games in the outfield and 60 at first base, giving him the ability to expand his defensive horizons.
With limited defensive metrics available, his glove remains a small, average part of his game. Pipeline notes that his arm is certainly strong enough to play in the outfield, but he should be a sound defender no matter his ultimate home.
While not exactly ranked as highly as his 2018 season would indicate, Noda, who turns 23 in March, could be something of value for the Blue Jays going forward. Honoured as the Rookie-level Appalachian League’s Most Valuable Player in 2017 thanks chiefly to a stellar .364/.507/.575 slash and 123 total bases in 66 games, he has a chance to move up in the system this year.
Pipeline estimates that he’ll reach the major leagues by 2021, while Fangraphs gives him a more realistic 2022 ETA. Regardless, he’ll continue to be one of the more intriguing and malleable prospects in the organization going forward.