Noll demonstrating versatility on defense to go with quick bat

Third baseman Jake Noll has done a very nice job of demonstrating how good a baseball player he is in the Nationals system with some quality numbers in spring training.

Noll, 25, has hit .367 in 17 games with four doubles, two homers and nine RBIs, turning heads in his Florida foray. He has struck out only seven times, scored 10 runs and walked four times in 30 at-bats, grabbing the attention of the Nats development staff.

“He’s off to a really good start,” said Nationals player development director Mark Scialabba. “He is impressing our staff with his ability to give a consistent at-bat, hit a fastball, drive the ball to all fields.”

The Nats have moved Noll around, from the outfield to the infield, and the Punta Gorda, Fla., native shows a nice feel with his glove to ball at each spot on the diamond.

jake-noll-bats-minors-sidebar.jpg“He’s shown his defensive versatility as well,” Scialabba said. “He’s worked really hard over the past few years with (Nats co-field coordinator) Jeff Garber. The fruits of his labor are starting to show with his ability to play second base, third base and first base. He has the ability to eventually go back to the outfield where he was an amateur. He’s got that grinder type mentality that you want in a baseball player. We are all very pleased to see him have success in a short stint in spring training and translate his abilities on a day-to-day basis.”

The right-handed hitter’s splits are good versus left-handed pitching (.455) and right-handed hurlers (.316).

“He’s someone that can hit the ball to all fields,” Scialabba said. “He continues to develop his plate discipline but he also wants to keep that aggressiveness. That’s what makes him a good hitter. We feel like he’s someone that will have a good at-bat no matter who’s on the mound.”

Noll gained valuable experience by finishing the season strong and then playing in the highly touted Arizona Fall League playing 13 games and listed as a second baseman. Scialabba said Noll’s versatility on infield defense is a major plus as he projects to higher levels beginning this season. If he can play three infield spots, a manager would love to have him in a utility role if that is the way he can break in.

“I think he’s going to be someone who moves around,” Scialabba said. “I think he did an unbelievable job, his work ethic. All the time he spent with Jeff Garber, the coaching staff, developing the ability to play second, play third. He did an outstanding job towards the end of the season getting comfortable at third, went to the Arizona Fall League, continued to work there.

“Noll came into camp and he looks like a third baseman. He’s comfortable at second and has shown he can play first. He plays all three spots. That really gives your manager a lot of flexibility. It’s going to help him get in the lineup every day or fill-in where there’s a need at any of those spots.”

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