PCL notes: Grizzlies' Noll stays motivated

Nationals No. 26 prospect heating up in Fresno after MLB stints

A seventh-round pick in 2016, Jake Noll is batting .385/.403/.538 in 17 Triple-A games this month. (Fresno Grizzlies)

By Chris Jackson / Special to MiLB.com | July 23, 2019 11:30 AM

Jake Noll was only about seven months removed from suiting up for Double-A Harrisburg when he got a surprising call at the start of this season.

The corner infielder, a seventh-round pick in 2016 out of Florida Gulf Coast University, was skipping Triple-A and heading straight to the Majors. The Nationals were short on healthy infielders, and Noll ended up going 2-for-12 with two RBIs in eight games over three separate stints.

When not suiting up in the Majors this season, he's been with the Fresno Grizzlies, hitting .273/.321/.405 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs in 84 Triple-A games. Noll said there was no mental adjustment necessary in coming back to the Minors.

"I didn't really expect to start there, and I'd never played Triple-A before, so I wouldn't say it was a mental adjustment," said the Nationals' No. 26 prospect. "It just gives me more motivation to get back."

Noll has instead focused on making his, and the Nationals organization's, first experience in the Pacific Coast League a positive one.

"It's cool seeing all these cities out here," he said. "I'd never been to the West Coast really playing baseball."

A Florida native, Noll and his teammates have adjusted well to the offense-crazy league and its spread-out franchises.

"It's a lot of travel," Noll said. "You do go to a lot better cities. I never played in the International League, so I wouldn't know, but I was told the cities are nicer. Travel is long, but that's about it. It's been a good experience so far."

2019 MiLB include

Noll scuffled a bit early in the season, but he's taken off in July, batting .385/.403/.538 this month.

"It always can be better," he said. "I'm just taking it day-by-day. I've never played in Triple-A before, so these guys are a lot more veteran -- they know how to get you out. You just have to learn from it."

Noll has primarily played third base this year, but he has experience at first base, second base and the outfield.

"I'm feeling good [at third]," he said. "It's like I said, I'm working hard every day. I'll just go out and play wherever I'm needed. I'll play outfield, infield, wherever."

The Grizzlies are 52-49 this season, just two games back of Sacramento in the Pacific Northern Division. Noll said he and his teammates are up to the challenge of a pennant race.

"These days are what you prepared for in the offseason [with] strength and conditioning, and hopefully your body can hold up for the year," he said. "It's a lot different with the traveling, waking up at 3:30 in the morning, getting on a plane and then having to play. You've just got to stay on top of it, know your own body, know what you need to do every day to prepare."

In brief

Acing the deal: D-backs No. 24 prospect Domingo Leyba went from a footnote in a 2014 three-team trade to finally reaching the Majors. The infielder did it thanks to his bat -- he's hit .307/.357/.553 with 15 home runs and 54 RBIs for Reno this season.

Not Miller time: Cubs No. 19 prospect Tyson Miller's dominant effort at Double-A Tennessee (4-3, 2.56 ERA) earned him a promotion to Iowa. It has not gone well for the right-hander so far in the PCL -- he has an 11.12 ERA in three starts, allowing four home runs after giving up just six in 88 innings a level below.

Man on a mission: Brewers No. 30 prospect Trent Grisham has bucked the trend of struggling hitters with San Antonio this season. Since his promotion on June 20, the outfielder has hit .349/.425/.698 with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs in just 27 games for a team that ranks 12th out of 16 teams in hitting.

Chris Jackson is a contributor to MiLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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