UPDATE: The video of an interview with Ryan Noda will be published soon.
When Ryan Noda completed the Ross Stripling trade this February, as the “player to be named later”, he joined the Dodgers ready to make a name of his own. In his very first at-bat as a Dodger, and on the very first pitch he saw, he did just that by hitting a home run over the left-field wall.
Ryan Noda’s first at bat in the Dodgers’ organization: one pitch, one homerpic.twitter.com/LTIljugMNt
— Future Dodgers (@FutureDodgers) May 5, 2021
When asked what it was like to hit that home run in his first at-bat as a Dodger, Noda told Casey Porter of Dodger Poke Report and Dodgers 2080 that it was a pretty awesome feeling.
You know it was awesome, Noda said. I was trying to go up there and have a good first at bat. They said the guy threw a lot of fastballs early and so I was trying to time a fastball and he gave me one on the outer half of the plate and I just put a barrel on it. It was pretty sweet to have my first at bat as a Dodger, in this organization, be a homerun.
Noda possesses a combination of skills that fits the Dodgers profile to a tee. He hits home runs, he walks a lot, he grinds out pitch counts, and he can play multiple positions defensively. At 6’3″, 217 pounds, not only can Noda play multiple positions, but he also crosses over between the infield and outfield.
It is not a secret that the Dodgers have money to spend on draft picks, free agents, and the trade deadline. While those things have bolstered the Dodgers roster, the foundation for the organization’s success has come in player development, and, specifically, identifying the type of player that is coveted. For all of the Trea Turners, Mookie Betts, and AJ Pollock‘s that the Dodgers have acquired, they have also identified and developed guys like Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, and Justin Turner. Finding and developing those guys was not just random luck. Muncy, Taylor, Turner, and now Noda, fit the Dodgers profile in terms of skill sets and that’s why they were targeted.
Identifying and Developing
The Dodgers target players like Max Muncy and Ryan Noda because they grind pitch counts, draw a bunch of walks, and then hit home runs. The organization also understands that no player is perfect. So, if a player strikes out too much, like Chris Taylor for instance, it is understood that those strikeouts can be neutralized, to an extent, as long as that player can do the other things at a high level.
Noda, No Doubt a Great Fit
Noda is the active leader in all of AA in home runs, is 2nd in walks, 5th in RBI’s, and is 12th in OPS.
Although he has struck out 107 times, which is a lot, he also walks a lot. As a result, his walks to strikeout ratio is 16th best in AA. Noda says that he’s not trying to hit home runs, he just sticks to his plan and tries to help the team win.
Yeah, I just go up there with a plan. We go over whose pitching every day of the game and I just stick to my plan and look for a pitch I can drive. I’m not trying to hit homeruns, I’m trying to hit line drives, and mistakes will go over the fence. I’m just gonna keep doing what I do best and grind at bats and make it hard on the pitcher and do everyyhing I can to help the team win.
Noda can also hit to all fields and has shown the ability to hit for power even when his timing is off. In this video Noda hits a homerun that had an exit velocity of 100 mph, and he was a touch out front
You know you have power when you half swing and still hit the ball out of the stadium.
Ryan Noda has serious power and is 2nd in AA in homeruns pic.twitter.com/N56zb8WzjC
— Dodger Poke Report (@dodger_poke) August 25, 2021
Although Noda has a 50% pull percentage, which is 10% higher than the MLB average, he has shown to have power to all fields. Here’s a tape measure shot hit up the middle
Ryan Noda with a next level back to back – he homered right after Miguel Vargas, and on back to back nights! This is Noda's 25th homer for Tulsa, 408' off the bat, 104 mph off the bat pic.twitter.com/c4VZaaAPEh
— Josh Thomas (@jokeylocomotive) August 26, 2021
And here’s one hit to the opposite field to complete Noda’s circuit of power.
Ryan Noda was acquired in the Ross Stripling trade
He has 18 HR, 43 RBI and a .877 OPS in AA this season pic.twitter.com/SjSI3jt5rd
— Blake Harris (@BlakeHarrisTBLA) August 1, 2021
When asked about his ability to hit to all fields Noda said it is about being able to stick to a plan.
You know that’s also sticking to a plan. It’s trying to stay through the ball even if they are working you in, I feel like I have good enough and quick enough hands where I feel I can still get to that inside pitch and that’s how I became where I’m at. I can hit the ball out of any part of the park and so all I have to do is touch the ball and hopefully it goes.
Ceiling Keeps Growing
One of the exciting aspects of Noda’s career is that his progression shows that his ceiling is growing. In College, at Cincinnati, Noda hit 32 home runs and averaged hitting a home run once every 32 at-bats as a Bearcat. His first year in Rookie ball he averaged hitting a home run every 30 at-bats. But, this year, Noda leads the league with 26 home runs and is averaging hitting a home run every 12 at-bats. Noda has also become more efficient at drawing walks during his professional career. He’s walking every 4 76 plate appearances this year which is right on pace with his average as a professional. In college, Noda walked in every 7.4 plate appearance. Add in the fact that he is 5th in RBI’s in AA and it paints a clear picture that Noda’s profile fits well inside the framework of the Dodgers system.
Path to the Big Leagues
As talented as Noda is, and as good of an acquisition as he has been, he also understands that the Dodgers organization is simply loaded with great players, But Noda is trying to make himself a piece to the puzzle for the Dodgers to help them keep winning Championships.
Noda is hoping that his versatility on defense and his skill set offensively gives him an edge.
Yeah, you know, defense is a big part of winning especially in this organization and you don’t make it to the major leagues unless you can do both, both offense and defense. And you need to be versatile because on our big league team we have All Stars at almost every position, so I’m just trying to figure out where they would need me and where I would fit into the Major League puzzle here in the future and helping the team keep going to the playoffs and winning that ring.
The Dodgers love players that hit home runs like Noda has this year, especially when they’re 2nd in the league in walks. So, although he may have come to the Dodgers as the “player to be named later”, Ryan Noda has made a name for himself, and, hopefully, now, it’s one you’ll want to watch.