January 12, 2016
Last month the Toronto Blue Jays addressed their pitching need at the minor league level by signing seven arms to deals. While names like Brad Penny, Wade LeBlanc, and Pat McCoy highlighted these signings. There’s another intriguing guy in this group in right-handed pitcher Gabe Noyalis.
What makes the Noyalis signing unique is the fact that he hasn’t played organized baseball since 2012 when he was a student athlete at division 3 Misericordia University. Spending the majority of his time since then as a Sales Associate and finishing his Bachelor Degree in History and Government. It appeared that Noyalis was done with baseball.
But like many with a dream Noyalis wasn’t ready to hang up his cleats for good. After all, the righty found success in college. Maintaining a 1.88 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in his 38 1/3 innings pitched at Misericordia showed some definite ability that could transition to the next level.
“I always missed the game after I left it,” stated Noyalis. “My come back basically started when my high school team asked me to throw to them the day before a state playoff game since they knew I used to throw relatively hard.”
“They had a radar gun on me for the heck of it and without touching a baseball for a year I hit 91 and was at 88-89 consistently,” Noyalis added. “I figured if I got my arm in shape I could throw even harder, especially saying my hardest ball that day was a tick above what I threw in college.”
Scouring his local area for tryout opportunities with major league organizations, Noyalis was able to perform for scouts with the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves, before reconnecting with Matt Anderson, a scout for the Blue Jays who have been following Noyalis since he was in high school.
“I threw a couple times since my time at my high school which led up to a Phillies open tryout in my hometown a month later,” said Noyalis. “At the tryout I was at 93-94 mph consistently which piqued their interest and they told me there was a chance I could get a call back, but it never came. I was okay with that because they aren’t realistically looking to sign anyone out of those kinds of things. But that experience lit a fire inside of me even more, especially since that’s harder than I’ve ever thrown in my life.”
“I found a Braves open tryout a month later in Saratoga Springs, NY and started to prepare for that,” Noyalis added. “I found a throwing partner before this camp. I ended up throwing between 93-97 mph this time which again led to some interest and no call back. By this point I was more motivated than ever. I was throwing harder than ever before and I felt great. I called Matt Anderson who followed my high school and college career to ask what I should do. He no longer lived in my area and moved to the Dallas area. He invited me down to throw for him and that’s what created this amazing opportunity.”
Impressed with the kind of talent Noyalis put on display in Texas. The organization quickly offered the 24-year old pitcher a contract. This is a moment that will live in the young pitcher forever, as it put him one step closer to his dream of pitching in the big leagues one day.
“Getting an opportunity with the Blue Jays feels unreal, especially after not touching a baseball for three years and thinking my baseball career was over,” said Noyalis. “When Matt told me they were going to sign me I was speechless. I also felt very proud that my hard work paid off. I was obsessing over getting signed for months ever since I realized it could happen and for it to finally come to fruition. It was one of the most gratifying feelings I have felt up to this point in my life.”
While some fans are probably thinking that sounds like a long shot as Noyalis is just starting his professional career at 24. The righty features the velocity it takes to find success at the major league level. With the majority of pitchers throwing mid-90’s or higher in the show, Noyalis already fits the bill well if he can find continuous success at the minor league level.
“I was between 95-98 mph when I threw for Matt Anderson,” stated Noyalis. “I was surprised by the number, because my throwing partner went away to college. I prepared by throwing sand filled rubber balls against the wall of my gym’s basement because of lack of consistent throwing partners, weather, and my work schedule. I’m excited to see where my velocity will be with a proper throwing program and the weighted balls.”
Another promising sign for Noyalis is his pitch repertoire. Already featuring four different pitches, the prospect is well on his way to keeping hitters off-balanced with his mix of pitches and speeds.
“Right now I throw both a 2-seam and a 4-seam fastball, knuckle-curve, and a changeup,” explained Noyalis. “However I would like to develop a cutter or slider and just utilize my curveball as a get me over pitch, or also one I can pull out unexpectedly and disrupt a hitter’s timing since it’s pretty slow. Mid-70’s I believe.”
Obviously a lot of questions will be answered for Noyalis when he reports to spring training. Not sure if he’s viewed more as a starter or a reliever at this stage of the process. The young pitcher looks forward to the challenge that his first spring training will present to him.
“Matt told me my role would depend on my spring training performance,” stated Noyalis. “But either way I want to do whatever the organization feels will allow me to contribute at the big league level and ultimately help the team win a World Series.”
The righty admits that he doesn’t know any of the guys yet that will be his future teammates. But he’s a fan of a pitcher that Blue Jays fans know well and he hopes to one day pitch alongside this promising star.
“I am a huge fan of Marcus Stroman,” stated Noyalis. “I first found out about him when he was at Duke. I love how he rises above the criticism of his height and how much he believes in himself. I’m also astonished at his velocity for his size; the guy is a freak athlete. Hopefully I get to be his teammate one day.”
With his first professional season fast approaching, Noyalis is excited for what’s ahead. Like many players, the righty has some definite goals that he would like to achieve before the conclusion of his 2016 campaign.
“I have many goals for the season,” explained Noyalis. “I want to develop two off-speed pitches that I can rely on to get outs. I would like to hit 100 mph while sitting at 96-98. I want to establish myself as a guy to watch for upcoming seasons, while staying healthy all season.”
Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays hope Gabe Noyalis can reach all the goals he has set out for himself this season and will one day achieve his dream of pitching in the big leagues.