Jake Noll, IF
Infielder Jake Noll arrived at Spring Training as a non-roster invitee with little hopes of making the big league club. Virtually nobody knew who he was. The former college walk-on first came to the attention of Nationals media and fans only because he had a passing resemblance to teammate Ryan Zimmerman.
With the odds stacked against Noll, he proceeded to hit .314 over 27 games in the Grapefruit League with four doubles two home runs, five walks, and just ten strikeouts. That torrid performance during the spring combined with his ability to play most of the infield, the Nationals added him to their Opening Day roster with Howie Kendrick still working back from injury.
Like Stevenson, Noll has already made an impact for the Nationals this season. Despite only making three plate appearances as a pinch hitter and not recording his first Major League hit, Noll has already checked ‘walk-off hero’ off his baseball milestone checklist. In that April 3rd game against the Phillies, he drew the bases loaded walk-off walk to give the Nats a much needed 9-8 win.
Since that win, Jake Noll was optioned to AAA Fresno to activate Kendrick. However, with 154 games left in a long, grueling season, it’s highly unlikely that we’ve seen the last of this versatile infielder. Expect Noll to come back at some point during the season and make a few more big pinch-hit appearances.